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and Repair Your Computer
and Repair Your Computer
To Linda Kay,
who co-authored this who makes all things
and To Sedona, Arizona, the achievable
and Repair Your Computer — ^
Upgrade and Repair Your Computer: Revised and Updated Edition ,
by Mike and Tony Harris Copyright ® 2002 by Mike and Tony Harris
ISBN 1-58160-356-8 Printed in the United States of America
Published by Paladin Press, a division of Paladin Enterprises, Inc.
Gunbarrel Tech Center 7077 Winchester Circle Boulder, Colorado 80301 + 1.303.443.7250
Direct inquiries and/or orders to the above address.
PALADIN, PALADIN PRESS, and
the "horse head" design
are trademarks belonging to Paladin Enterprises and registered in United States Patent
All rights reserved. Except for use in a review,
portion of this book
reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the publisher. Neither the author nor the publisher assumes
use or misuse of
information contained in this book. Visit
Computer Talk Chapter
Computer Cost and Performance Chapter
Chapter 4: Designing Your
Computer and System
Chapter 5: Software Selection
Chapter 6: Getting
Chapter 9: Diagnostic Software
Other Things You Need
Appendix A: Computer Magazines Appendix B: Resources on the World Wide Web Appendix C: Catalogs v
Warning This book is intended to assist people who want to understand, build, repair or upgrade an IBM-compatible computer, but it is not intended as the sole source of information on this subject. This book supplements other available information, and you are urged to read all available material and tailor the information presented here to your unique needs. For more information, check your local library and the book section of your local
computer retailer. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information presented. The author, publisher, and distributors have no liability or responsibilities to any person with respect to any loss or damage caused, directly or indirectly, by the projects described in this book.
Preface This book has been enjoyable to put together and I hope you get satisfaction from reading it. More importantly, I hope this book opens a door for you, as building my first computer did for me. It always seemed to me that the price for a computer was about 30 percent out of my reach. One day, I found out I had the capability to build a computer, and suddenly I could afford one. This book represents everything I have read on the subject; everyone I have talked to or learned from has contributed. It is only a small subset of the knowledge available on computers, but it is the most important information for the new computer builder to know. There are few books that actually instruct you how to put together a computer, and none that walk you through the process with the depth this book presents. I have listened to about 100 computer builders and people who upgrade their own systems, and they agree with me that the text and pictures in this book accurately convey the process. The examples of systems I included are a great reference for anyone not sure of the exact configuration they desire.
Introduction You purchased this book to learn how to evaluate your computer requirements and build, upgrade, or purchase a computer to meet your exact needs. Believe it or not, if you decide to go forward you have already performed the most difficult part of the task. Most people have the misconception that a computer is internally similar to a television set and the mere mention of opening the cover conjures up visions of unspeakable horror. The greatest fear is wondering if the darn thing will ever work again when (if?) you ever get it back together. A look through this book will quickly put those myths to rest. If you can operate a Phillips-head screwdriver and follow instructions, you can build the most complicated PC. This book profiles the IBM-compatible PC and covers the options and variations of the basic computer. It describes software, hardware, and interconnection possibilities as well. You will learn about the spectrum of add-on items that you can easily install to customize your computer to cover your special needs. Learning how to upgrade and customize gives you the power to keep your system current, so these two areas are covered extensively. Many people have asked me if building a Pentiumplatform computer is much harder than creating a simple (and obsolete) 486-based system. The truth is that a Pentium system, or any currently available processor considerably simpler to build than its ancient predecessors were. The plug and play features in the platform,
new motherboard BIOS make
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
system just as simple to build as the barebones systems of a few years ago. (BIOS is the instruction set built into the motherboard that allows the motherboard to recognize the addon components you will install later.) This is why this book was written— to regardless of which processor or system speed you choose, the actual assembly is exactly the same. The only variables are the number and configuration of optional add-on components. Let's talk about complexity again. I built my first computer in 1986 with a number two
Phillips screwdriver, a small slot screwdriver,
slot screwdriver, a
small pair of
standard pliers, and a small pair of tweezers. Last month I assembled a Pentium 4 1GHz computer in about 20 minutes with only these tools and saved about $1,000 or so compared to the best nationally advertised system with similar components. Now seems a good time to mention a veryimportant feature that makes building or upgrading the IBM-compatible computer significantly easier than in years past. Plug and Play (PnP) is the current standard built into hardware devices and add-on components and is the current standard in Windows. It is a set of hardware recognition instructions residing on the motherboard that allows the motherboard to
up the hardware, i.e., the modem card that you choose and install set
computer. This single standard revolutionized the computer industry by severely reducing the hardware and software conflicts that installing new hardware once caused. When I built my first computer, I had to manually configure each item with a unique interrupt request address (IRQ). There are 16 different addresses available, but no two items can have the same IRQ. Many add-on
have a unique direct
tweezers came in handy for setting the switches on the components before installation. Fortunately the newer components don't require this level of attention.
were PnP, so the
time I turned it automatically configured everything. The record of each and IRQ setting configured by the PnP BIOS was saved, either on the motherboard or on each item installed
the computer on
of this system
depending on the complexity of the computer, one may never have to worry about DMA or
IRQ conflicts. PnP in Windows goes one step further and configures —or specifies configurations for set— on items not PnP compatible. The first time Windows runs, it maps each installed item for conflicts and notifies you if there is a conflict that you must manually correct. The correction normally involves setting a component's jumper or switch to a
PnP is a true blessing for the beginning computer builder or anyone different setting.
interested in upgrading, and will eliminate
hours of frustration. Somewhere along the line you
yourself the big question, "What do
doing?" followed immediately by the statement, "I can't possibly build a computer!" Ignore such concerns and let me show you how easy it can be. Building instead of buying will save you a ton of money, and the experience will enable you to repair your PC and successfully upgrade to keep it current, if you wish. Many people I know are satisfied with their existing computer but would like a larger hard drive or
perform upgrades yourself will save you even more money since some retailers would rather sell you a new computer than provide the information you need to perform a simple
more memory. The
help you understand exactly a computer before you spend a dime. people just need a basic system for
the CPU.) When I began building my first computer, I had to be certain that each item was unique in its IRQ and settings. My
to a device
access (DMA) setting. (DMA is method of transferring data from main
book is what you want
of the objectives of this
processing and running a few games, while
those writing programs or performing operations with complex graphics, for instance, will require a more sophisticated and powerful system.
couple of authors that I've read advise the buyer to purchase the most expensive computer that he or she can possibly afford. I have to disagree with that philosophy. I believe you should understand your computer needs right now and make an educated guess at your future needs; however, don't make any projections past three years, as technology advances can cloud up our crystal balls. Build the computer you want now and upgrade
memory, speed, and other functions as required to satisfy your advancing requirements. This realistic and cost-effective storage,
approach will not put you in the poorhouse. With the help of this book you can determine what kind of computer you want, purchase and successfully assemble the hardware, and install the software. When you finish you will have the system you need and hundreds of extra dollars in your pocket. This book also covers upgrades for improved performance on older machines in easy-to-read language and with sufficient detail to let you easily master the task. Included are tips and basic troubleshooting techniques used by experts to repair and tune up computers and peripherals.
ABOUT MIKE HARRIS
You might have noticed and related products are
director and engineer for a specialized engineering company, one of many involved in designing the next generation of digital communications equipment. We specialize in high-speed fiber optic communications links between computers.
in a constant state of
revision and improvement. The computer industry is always trying to convince the public that year-old products are obsolete! My interest in computers and instrumentation control software presses me to constantly update my computer hardware and software knowledge. One of the required parts of my job is to be just ahead of technological advances in the computer field. This spills over into my personal life, and my primary hobby is designing and building
computer systems. On this subject, I serve in an advisory or consulting capacity with several progressive firms specializing in IBMcompatible hardware and software. I have upgraded and repaired more than 1,000 computers
at this writing.
IBM-compatible computer an engineering aid and typewriter. Saving money was high on my list of priorities, and by building my own computer I saved about $1,400. Recently, when I built my Pentium 4, I saved about the same percentage— around $2,000. Needless to say, I was quite astounded by the savings. I
in the early 1980s to use as
Today, due to the simplicity of design, a
computer can be built by anyone with a modicum of dexterity and a bit of patience. Knowing this and realizing how much money you can save by building your own system, I made the decision to share my 25 years of computer and
Who am and why did write this book? am currently a business development
electronic experience with you.
To confirm that the information presented in this text could help nearly anyone build a computer, I ran tests. The details are in the text but to recap briefly, I took as subjects a lawyer, an assistant manager from a local convenience store, a young marine, and a computer-illiterate author.
this book, all
building or upgrading their computers.
1 Computer Talk This chapter covers the computer dialect used in the industry today. The buzzwords can be the most confusing
and intimidating aspect of computer shopping, primarily since the computer terms are the salesperson's best tool to
gauge the customer's knowledge. This chapter gives
the reader a compass to safely navigate the sales pitches
and serves as a tool to determine exactly what your computer requirements are. Readers tell me that the single
most intimidating part of a computer
getting past the computer-related terminology.
measurement units the computer terms you will
tables display the
BUILD, UPGRADE, AND REPAIR
COMMON MEASUREMENT TERMS
286 — This
or cycles per second
COMPUTER DATA BY PROCESSOR TYPE
will probably have to refer back to this
AT (advanced much
technology) computer you hear so It
leap from the 8-
introduced in 1984 had an 80286 microprocessor and the capability of addressing 16 MB of RAM. The most common processor speed original
was 12 MHz. I built and was pleased to
Pentium 4 Athalon
MHz MHz 16-40 MHz 25-133 MHz 60-233+ MHz 4.7-10
GB 4 GB 4 GB
The Pentium 4 and Athalon are
in a class
KB KB 8 KB/256 KB 16 KB/512 KB 0/64
32 KB/5 12
16-bit internal and data bus made machines slugs by comparison, and the 80287 math coprocessor made this the high-speed machine of its time.
386 — The 386 was
computers to break the 32-bit barrier. The 386SX had an 80386 processor with a 32bit internal
16-bit external bus.
increased the external data bus to
The SX processor ran
clocked in at 33 MHz for the Intel version, with the most common clones the
BUZZWORDS AND THEIR MEANINGS Electronic terminology in general and computer-related buzzwords in particular can be confusing, misleading, and even incomprehensible. This chapter exposes you to most of the commonly used terms and provides definitions. After you finish this chapter, you will be able to communicate with anyone regarding any computer topic. These terms by no means represent the entire working glossary of the computer industry, but they are the
most users and sales personnel are familiar with. You will be more capable of describing your needs and determining whether or not the salesperson is competent enough to help with them after reading this chapter. This glossary of terms and definitions is a good start on the road to computer literacy. It is
placed in alphabetical, not historical, order.
As you go through the chapters
The addressable memory size expanded 4 GB and a new 80387 math coprocessor
was introduced. An SX version came out
of the closet.
486 — The 486 family of computers
today due to outstanding performance. nobody builds the 80486 Since microprocessor anymore, 5x86, Pentium, and 6x86 computers are replacing the 486 as the supply dwindles.
The 486SX computers house the 80486SX microprocessor. It is a 32-bit internal
and external bus microprocessor
running 25 MHz.
A 486SX2 computer
boasts the faster
80486SX2 microprocessor, which runs twice the SX speed due to doubling the microprocessor clock. Computers at
are not this configuration.
The 486DX family added an
internal cache to the
math coprocessor was
also included within
A 486DX computer
has an 80486
which can move out
MHz. The 486DX2 computers upgrade the processor to a 80486DX2 microprocessor running up to 66 MHz. The clock doubling technique utilized for the SX2 processors was used to double a 33 MHz clock to give the DX2 the 66 MHz clock speed. Someone found
clock speeds and build faster processors, so the
486DX4 computer became
most common processor speeds in this line are the 100 MHz and 120 MHz systems, and I have seen a 133 MHz processor.
8086 — The IBM computer had
somewhere. This was the processor of choice at the time. With an 8087 coprocessor, 640 KB of RAM and a 10-MB hard drive, this was the premier home computer for some time. If you opened an IBM PS/2 computer, this is what you would see. This processor supported 8 bits externally and 16 bits internally, and could address 1 MB of RAM. It ran at a smoking 10
8088 — This
and external version into most of the of the 8086 found its IBM XT computers. With the capability to address 1 MB of RAM and operate up to 10 megahertz, this system was the computer most people bought for home use. 8 bit internal
AGP — Accelerated graphics port video a proprietary bus structure
improvements on 3-D video performance. They work in hand with the significant
MMX instruction unheard
controllers are both adapters. So
Adapter— An adapter connects two pieces hardware and translates one form
to the other. It
can be an
to a parallel
interface cable such as a
printer cable, a 9 to 25-pin adapter for use
with a mouse, or an add-in card whose purpose is connecting the motherboard bus to another device, like a
to the devices
operate with your computer. The video card, for example, connects the video monitor to the CPU through the motherboard. The sound card is an adapter that takes digital signals
and connects them
your speakers after
Address — Everything connected
computer via an add-in card has a unique address
an input or output device. This how your computer knows where
if it is
send data or where
to receive information.
locations are also addresses.
Programs use memory addresses to find stored information to retrieve and process. Addresses can be hardware addresses for a physical device or software data
addresses in memory on a computer. The microprocessor treats them all the same.
ANSI — The American
This group controls specifications for many industrial applications, including the computer industry. The standards for displaying information, screen color, and
positioning are part of this discipline.
The ANSI. SYS
often loaded as
CONFIG.SYS file. If it is loaded, your computer can respond correctly to ANSI commands in the programs you execute. This DOS command is seldom seen in the Windows 98 a line in your
environment of today. agency that provides software rental is often called an application service provider. They provide subscription
ASP — An
services for applications that they maintain
of graphics speed.
Add-in card — Add-in cards connect the
The SCSI and IDE hard-disk drive
and keep current, and access is generally over the Web. Primary users are the businesses that are here today and gone tomorrow and do not wish to purchase anything that must be liquidated later. Actionable — Once only a legal term, it now means anything you can take action on. "Looking at your to-do list, these two items are actionable."
BUILD, UPGRADE, AND REPAIR
Amazon-ized — A Web-based
Application An application is a program or programs designed to execute a particular operation. For example, a
an application designed to perform writing, editing, spell checking, and is
— Spam directed against politicians in
politicians are unable to read or
counterpart in the original AT-compatible. This
computer, it for buyers
the cloned programs
and accessories are compatible with their computer or add-on device. IBM compatible is another way of describing compatibility.
AUTOEXEX.BAT -This is one principal DOS configuration Programs that
up hardware or
of the files.
blocks often utilize it. You can use an ASCII editor, such as the DOS edit command, to add lines of code or change
parameters in this
The AUTOEXEC.BAT of code within
are executed in order of
applications may be sensitive to the order in which commands appear in this file. The most important feature of this file is the ability to set the path statement. This is where paths are created to directories containing executable code. Commands
name DOS error message and
screen would be laughing at you behind your back. BAU — Business as usual. Very commonly used in e-mail correspondence. Unlikely to be found in any intelligent discourse
Backbone provider — The
that provide leased Internet access to Internet service providers.
Bandwidth — This common
understand the English language.
AT-compatible — If a peripheral or computer provides the basic function as its is
order to change their opinions. Ineffective, since
Without a DOS path to the directory you would get a bad command or
retailer has just
taken over your industrial niche. You have just been Amazon-ized.
can be executed anywhere in your if a path command to the
engineering term has been redefined as the speed at which data can be transferred electronically from the Internet-based application into our computer. This data rate is determined primarily by your method of connection,
Barn raising— This
problem accomplished by
a type of
resolution that is dragging everyone not doing anything from
company functions. Base address — Everything has a starting point. The first location in memory where all
program resides is the base address of the program. Installed hardware devices also a
have a base address.
Batch files-Like the AUTOEXEC.BAT file mentioned above, DOS recognizes filenames ending in .BAT as batch files. These files are normally ASCII files written by the computer user to make life easier.
you have an antivirus program and wish to run it occasionally but do not want to waste a path statement to the directory antivir on a program operated only once or twice a month, you can enter the DOS editor by typing: For example,
executable code exists.
For example, you exit Windows. You are in the d:\windows directory on a two hard disk In your system. AUTOEXEC.BAT file, a path statement has the following line: path = c:\norton You type the command sysinfo, a Norton Utilities Version 8 DOS utility program.
clean.bat will be created.
typing the commands.
This will execute an anti-virus program called f-prot.
edit screen and exit the editor. This is a simple batch program, but it will execute automatically if you type the command clean followed by the enter key. BBS — Bulletin board services exist worldwide for your enjoyment. Not to be confused with the Internet, a bulletin board is normally a single computer or system you can dial up and obtain shareware from or a place where you can engage in chat
to save the file
BBSes became popular long before the Internet as a
way groups could share Many companies
and information. keep an open BBS
to get the
software updates and information.
One magazine that lists national BBS numbers every other month is the Computer Shopper, P.O. Box 51020, Boulder,
Below zeroes — This is the customer that costs you immeasurable resources while yielding nearly nothing in financial return for
Bench — Biological
This has become a commonly used phrase in the communications and electronic industry.
needs additional resources to finish a task on time will say, often in vain, "We need bench to wrap up on time." Betamaxed — When the best technology falls victim to second best, primarily due to better marketing of number two, product one has been betamaxed. BIOS — You will see this term used repeatedly office
or Binary digiT,
information transmitted to or from any element in a computer. A bit can be a 0 or a 1, where 0 and 1 are opposite block for
Computers communicate by building bytes consisting of 8 bits, and grouping the bytes in groups of two or more called words. Bluetooth — Aimed at unifying computing and logic states.
telecom industries, Bluetooth
connection that uses wireless technology to eliminate cabling between hardware devices.
book. The basic input/output where your configuration
platform resides and is the first code to run when you turn on a computer. The BIOS (pronounced "buy-ose") sets
up hardware and software addresses and is the software interface between different devices in youi computer. BIOS exists on your motherboard (and occasionally video adapters and other add-in cards) and provides interface services to and from the motherboard and these peripherals.
The wireless connection
through low-frequency radio signals. (Use of this technology is royalty-free, so count on it
Boot — The
act of initialization a
undergoes when you first turn it on is called "booting up." The BIOS starts the boot process and performs basic initialization.
configuration information to identify the
your computer and perform basic tests on memory and other components as specified in CMOS setup.
CONFIG.SYS, AUTOEXEC.BAT and any other configuration
are run to set
components not specified in BIOS or CMOS. Normally, programs modify configuration files so the programs know what hardware exists and can use it. This process occurs as the programs are being installed for the first time. The computer is ready for use after this process is complete.
Broadband — This technology
channels of voice, data, and/or video to be simultaneously broadcast over the Internet. BSOD Blue Screen of Death, aka Nightmare 101. You have just done something Windows doesn't like, so the screen suddenly goes blue and you are left with a
cryptic message outlining
is the pathway used by signals data to travel to and from microprocessor and all add-in cards accessories in your computer. The
transmits signals to control the video, disk,
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
and I/O operations, connects the memory and the processor, and is used by programs to control all the above hardware elements. Bus type is a primary reason some computers are faster than others. An 8-bit bus handles 8 lines of data simultaneously, and a 64-bit bus can handle 8 groups of 8 lines in the same amount of time. Imagine a ribbon cable, like the hard drive interconnecting cable. The the cable, the
more data can be processed
Byte — In computer bits of
lingo, a byte is a
group of 8
computer information. The byte
most common method
hard disk capacity, and file size. A kilobyte is 1,024 bytes of information, often called a KB, or Kbyte. A megabyte is 1,024 million bytes of information, often referred to as MB or Mbyte, and the primary measurement unit of hard drive, floppy disk, and memory size,
measurement scheme is the gigabyte, which is 1,000 MB of information or capacity. With 10-GB SCSI hard drives becoming obsolete, there will be another step in memory measurement coming soon: the terabyte. Hard disks of 100 MB have become the standard in many new systems, both recent addition to the
purchased and custom-built. Capsizing — This applies to the famous fiberoptic industry's process of constantly downsizing companies without reducing workload. Eventually the company dies a
color graphics adapter in
The monitor and adapter combination was capable of 320x320 resolution and 16 colors, along the
You, being significantly smarter than they hope, will use your own start page for Internet access.
CISC — Complex PCs
instruction set computer.
which the handle as many as 200 RISC (reduced instruction set
computer) systems, used by workstations and some PCs, handle fewer instructions. Cisco— Think outside the box (router) for a moment. Cisco has embedded themselves into every aspect of telecommunications, including wireless, fiber, and everything to do with the Internet. Bet you thought
was a monopoly... CMOS — Complimentary metal Microsoft
oxide semiconductor is a process for integrated circuit manufacture. The devices are normally low power consumption, and ideal for battery operation. This makes them usable in portable computers or laptops. Two devices in your computer continue operating even when the power is turned off and the plug is removed from the wall socket. When properly set, the CMOS clock runs off the small battery on the motherboard, keeping the correct date and time. CMOS setup, a Speaking of programmable integrated circuit saves the information you enter into the CMOS setup program and reuses it each time you turn on your computer. This device also runs off the small battery. When you operate the
computer, the battery is recharged. Cockroach This can be a little problem that, upon further research, is actually the tip of
your system. Command line and command prompt When you turn on your computer your
you enter a
the boot process). This portal. To define
portal, consider that many Web sites consider themselves to be portals into the Internet.
They hope you
your default method of Internet access.
was damage to
often a virus that
detected after doing significant
with rudimentary text support. If you have one of these around its best current use is
Chortal — A Chinese Web
into this category, in
horrible painful death.
screen displays a
program automatically during is
on the command line. When you characters appear after the the type, string
prompt. The configured.
command prompt can be your in A line
prompt = $P$G This would give
designating the drive letter followed by the
directory on the
system, the prompt
programs break the 640 KB
an enjoyable and easy to read I have a prompt line in my
that looks like this:
prompt = $e[0;37;44m$P$G This gives
a blue screen with white
for this option is a line in
device = ANSI.SYS
The special characters
are available in the version 6.0 or later manual.
The command commands you type
CONFIG.SYS — This which
Windows 95 and
MS-DOS memmaker also the TSR programs and
executed after the BIOS and setup routines are processed. It
main The CPU can be anything from an 8086 through a Pentium Pro and beyond. The CPU determines the bus architecture and system performance and speed. The computer's price is also determined by central processing unit is the
type. (These processors are for
and compatible computers.)
mass — In a
the computer industry,
program becomes feature-laden
the point that
device on the motherboard.
drivers into upper
computer. This reduces the maximum program size you can run under DOS.
C:\DOS > screen in
one of the embedded critical
useless for nearly every tasks,
As programmers add features, they
often lose sight of the original program's
of execution. The hardware and software device drivers for video, CD-ROM, and sound add-in cards normally reside here.
purpose and seem to forget that ease of use is one of the reasons we buy software. Cube farm A cube farm is one of many
have several lines in this file with device = These are device drivers. They control programs like will
embedded in WIN. INI, SYSTEM.INI, and CONTROL.INI files in the Windows directory. Controller cards — Controller cards are synonymous with adapter cards. They process data to and from the CPU. See and add-in
memory — Often
640 KB of RAM your computer. DOS programs run in this portion of memory. Unfortunately, this area in memory normally houses all of the device drivers and TSR programs running around in your
this is the first
features in the
business scene. Offices
have been replaced by look-alike cubicles, which allows the company to maximize space utilization and headcount in spacerestricted areas.
are called out in the CONFIG.SYS file. In Windows, these files are
Current directory — Your current directory is the spot in your system path you are indexed to. Every operation you perform runs on files and programs in the current directory. The current directory is searched first for commands you execute, then the path statement is searched until the program you executed is found. Current disk drive If you have a prompt that displays your current directory, it probably also displays your current disk
you are in the root directory of the hard disk you normally boot from, your
prompt may look
You can change your current disk by typing the drive
followed by a
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
colon, then pressing the return key. Example: To change to the A drive, type A: Your current disk drive will be the A floppy disk. The prompt will change to: A:\ > Your current disk drive is the one first searched by any commands you execute. The path statement takes over afterward. Note that your computer BIOS may set different resources in your computer to be your default current drive.
Cyberslacker— An employee
amounts of time and computer resources in the workplace is defined as a cyberslacker. It has been determined that approximately 15 percent of all workers involved in the computer industry spend a minimum of 10 percent of their workday significant
dump — "In
the unlikely event of a water
Sound familiar? When your
computer crashes, it is unlikely that you will have a chance to save any files that were open at the time, so the data is "dumped" onto the hard disk with no file association. Some programs automatically backup work as you process data but you should periodically save your work as you progress. Defrag — This term refers to the act of defragmenting files and directories on your hard disk. When files are defragmented, they are quickly accessed. Fragmented files (meaning files scattered throughout the hard disk surface) require multiple read and access cycles from the hard disk heads to capture the file for use. This makes for a slow system, which will get slower over time. It is suggested that you run a good disk defragmentation program periodically to eliminate this problem.
Device — Hardware connected to or inside your computer is considered a device. Most devices are hardware and either accept or transmit data. A video monitor accepts data and a keyboard transmits
Both are devices.
software programs set drivers for virtual devices. The virtual device accepts input or gives output, but is merely a
subprogram and not hardware. This
sophisticated graphics programs, which swap output and input with other resident programs. in
Device driver — Device
drivers are pieces of
software designed to configure hardware in your computer to perform certain tasks. You will find device drivers in your
AND ANSI. SYS. Diagnostic programs — These programs, discussed in Chapter 8, are tools to identify and correct problems. Diagnostic
routines range from full-blown burn-in programs that test all operational parameters of your computer, to simple
Directory— When you
virgin hard disk, your first directory is created. The root directory is the first place on the hard disk programs and data are stored. The second directory is normally the DOS directory, created by your DOS installation disk to store the DOS program files. As you install other programs they often create their own directories, or folders, to store the files required to run.
A DOS down
with each branch representing
and the root directory As you add programs, branches
a different directory at the top.
root directory. files,
can exist in the
you have 512 or fewer never need any sub-
you have 513 files, forget it. have more than 512 files.
Second, for organization of files within programs, directories and subdirectories are necessary. If each program has its own
area to store information, identical filenames will not be overwritten. Disk — A magnetic medium that rotates on a spindle with read and write heads hovering over it. Refer to the next two entries for information on the two primary types: hard disks and floppy disks.
— Hard disks are multiple magnetic
with a handful of read and write heads added, all sealed up in an enclosure with a circuit board for cache and sector platters
an oversimplification, but a good analogy. The reason hard disks are is
sealed in a very clean
between the heads and The smallest dust particle would jam between a head and one disk platter of area
surface, destroying your recently installed
program. (Hard disks are
discussed in detail in Chapter 1.) Diskette Floppy diskettes are removable storage media that consist of a single magnetically coated vinyl platter installed in a jacket. The drive for a floppy disk has a spindle that spins the floppy disk and read/write heads to transfer data to and from the floppy diskette.
Floppy diskettes are the most common to transfer data to other computers.
Disk controller — A disk controller is the IDE or SCSI interface between the hard disk and floppy disk drives and the CPU. It can be an add-in card or built-in circuitry on the motherboard.
DMA — Direct
one way to transfer data between computer memory and a hardware device installed in the computer. DMA does not require CPU involvement, making the process
extremely fast. DOS disk A DOS disk
input/output devices are written and developed into a complete operating system package. (DOS recognizes commands typed in both upper and lower case. I mix upper and lower case in commands all the time, but many programming tools do not. Be careful.) DOS boot diskette — A floppy diskette with the necessary DOS system files required to
called a boot diskette.
be necessary to have one if something happens to the boot block on your hard drive. A boot disk is an invaluable tool. The DOS manual describes how to make one for yourself.
Dot-com — This
company with no
doors, windows, furniture, etc.
(venture capitalist) money. After
of the Internet
up the money,
and leaves the once-
millionaires that invested in
Drip irrigation — When you computer store be exposed
for the first time
to this method of salesmanship, in which the salesman gives a customer just enough information to lead him to buy the most expensive thing the store has to sell. Hopefully with the aid of
book you will be able to set the sales personnel aside and shop for what you want, not what they want you to buy. Drive — The assembly that transports a floppy diskette, or the entire hard disk drive this
one that has been
formatted and one that can be utilized for data storage and retrieval on a DOS-based system.
transport system or tape transport
DOS memory — DOS
considered the first 640 KB of addressable memory in your computer. See conventional memory. It holds is
boot data, programs, and system information. DOS The disk operating system is software written to perform on a specific type of
often referred to as a drive.
system shares the same designation.
RAM — The
computers use dual data Rambus-manufactured utilizes a "dual
DRAM. DDR RAM
increased performance. It allows data to be clocked both on the rising and falling edge of a clock pulse.
memory module— The DIMM
computer. In the case of MS-DOS, the program was written to operate on IBM and compatible PC systems.
Applications unique to the type of hard disk, monitor and adapter, file system, and
Dub-dub-dub — Short
a circuit board that holds
a 64-bit path. See
technophiles pass on URLs, they precede
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
with this nonsense. Obviously this is one of our many communications shortcomings. E-business Business is now conducted over the Internet in staggering amounts. More than 40 percent of my business is handled over the Internet through e-mail. E-mail Electronically transmitted mail (other than FAX transmissions) is commonly referred to as e-mail. It has far surpassed snail mail as a preferable method of intelligent communication
EGA — IBM
introduced the enhanced graphics
adapter to improve graphics display quality in their
resolution alternative to the existing
ENTER— The ENTER,
or carriage return key
termination of a command line. It is often called the RETURN key. Do not confuse the alphanumeric ENTER key signifies
with the numeric keypad ENTER key. In some programs they will have different functions. Normally, however, they are identical in function.
Environment — DOS amount of memory
sets aside a small to store information.
This information is available for use by other programs. Among the things in the DOS environment are the path information, prompt and set information ,
for variable definition.
ESDI — The enhanced
small devices interface
compatible with both
definition of the standards applying to the
CGA and monochrome display units. EIDE— Enhanced integrated disk electronics. A
interconnection of a type of high-speed hard disk drive. It joins the currently SCSI and IDE interface utilized
three or four
times faster than the old IDE standard.
EISA — The extended
standard bus or compatible PC
architecture definition of the internal
structure on an IBM redefined the existing standard. It offered higher speed and more features than the ISA bus.
definition of a
32-bit architecture completely different
proprietary IBM MicroChannel system; one the clone industry quickly adopted as the 32-bit standard. The software that controls use and allocation of high memory in a PC is referred to as an expanded memory manager. The specification is sometimes the
developers, Lotus, Intel,
and Microsoft. The upper memory between the DOS memory (the first 640 KB) and 1 MB can be included in the expanded memory. The EMM sets aside 64 KB of upper memory as extended memory for certain programs to use. Extended memory usually starts at 1 MB and runs up to the amount of RAM installed on the motherboard. EMS The expanded memory specification is a standard that governs the hardware and software that comprises expanded memory. a
Execute — When a program is running, it is being executed. A computer executes instruction sets when it runs software programs. An executable file is a file normally having a .BAT, .EXE, or .COM filename extension. Files like this can be executed by typing the filename without the extension, then pressing the ENTER key. Expanded memory Expanded memory is the portion of RAM set aside and managed by the EMM. This memory is normally used as a scratch pad for database and spreadsheet programs. sets aside a 64 KB portion The of upper memory between the DOS memory and 1MB. This 64 KB of memory serves as an index to the larger portion of
expanded memory above
expanded memory size is limited only by the motherboard capacity and the amount of RAM you have installed on the system. It can be up to 1 TB in current Pentium 4 systems. Extended memory — In a 286 or higher computer, memory above 1 MB is referred to as extended memory. Disk caching is a principal use for this memory.
If you install H1MEM.SYS in your CONFIG.SYS file, you can set aside a 64 KB portion of extended memory for DOS and other TSR programs. Face time — This is very rare in the
telecommunications industry. It is time in front of a salesperson, serviceman, or other computer icon whose time is so valuable that you have to weed through a myriad of message buttons on your phone just to hear a real voice. In the unlikely event you actual get some face time with a
sales or service person, bleed
manufacturer. These computers are far less
FAT — The
more expensive than
to build after reading this book!
allocation table stores the location of each part of each file. It's how the computer finds files on the hard disk. File A file is a portion of a program or data occupying space in memory or on a disk. Some files are complete programs, but most files are data resulting from file
the filename extension. The extension normally describes the type of file, so applications can use it. If you look in your CONFIG.SYS file, you will see several types of DOS filename extensions. Those ending in .EXE and .COM files are ones DOS can load and execute. Filenames ending in .SYS are DOS system files and .DRV files are device
Fixed disk — This doesn't mean
Filename — The characters In a
a group of
404 — This is the error message you when searching for a Web page,
showing clear superiority in performance per gigahertz, quickly inquired of the buying public: "Does it work well under load? Is it robust ? Does it fit the current industry standard models?" Then they released the 2 GHz version of the Pentium 4, which finally outperformed the mere 1.4
GHz Athalon, but barely. Geek — Once measured by
the quantity of pencils in their pocket, geeks are now determined by the quantity of pocket computer interfacing gadgets they employ.
system, a filename can be up to
has disappeared for some reason. It used to describe someone who is clueless about the subject at hand. FUD factor Fear, uncertainty, and doubt. This is the best tactic the second-to-market has at its disposal. Intel, when besieged by benchmarks of the Athalon processor
to a file to identify
disk. Refer to disk, hard.
allocation table, or FAT, by its and size. This way the file can be accessed, modified, or deleted as required by you or program execution. the
program execution. A file stored on a disk
Gigabyte — A
MB of memory, Hard disk drives
eight characters with a three-character
storage, or information.
extension identifying the type of
and tape backup systems have capacities
95, the eight-character
gone and you have
GUI — Graphical
they log onto the Internet.
Filename extension — A string of one to three characters following the period in a
user interfaces (pronounced
"gooey") are not messy, as the buzzword
naming files. Filenames must be unique in the same directory, lest they be overwritten by flexibility
another application. First eyes On the Internet, it is critical to be the first Web site or portal to capture users' attention (and money). ISPs pay a lot of money to be the first thing people see
might indicate. The icons and display of your computer are your GUI. acker Someone that has refined the capabilities in the computer industry of manipulating a computer to do anything they wish, through either software or hardware, is a hacker. This is not always bad. Most hackers never create viruses or secretly enter forbidden computer space,
at least so
BUILD, UPGRADE, AND REPAIR
Hang time — Occasionally you away and
goes to sleep. by,
will be typing
some reason your computer You patiently wait, time goes
try everything imaginable to
you give the three-finger salute (ctrl + alt + del) and you meet the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death). Hardware interrupt — Interrupts alert the CPU of events requiring action. Hardware interrupts are asserted by a keyboard, get things going again. Finally,
mouse, hard disk,
microprocessor that software interaction is requested. The action may be to open or
close a file on the hard disk, accept movement information from a mouse or input from the keyboard. Hercules Before IBM released the mediumresolution EGA system for PC color displays, Hercules Technology came out with one. To this day, most video adapters are downward compatible to the Hercules
called hexadecimal notation. Four bits of information, represented by the base- 16
1, 2, 4,
15 "numbers" that comprise the system are
through F. An 8-bit byte, represented by (8 4 2 1) (8 4 2 1) represents 255 different items, 00 through FF. High memory HMA, or the high memory area, is the 64 KB area above the 1 MB address range that HIMEM.SYS creates. This area can be used by a program for storage of intermediate results during program execution. When this process occurs, you have more free DOS memory 0 through 9 and
available for other applications.
Host adapter — Add-in cards that interface between hardware devices, such as hard disks or video monitors, are referred to as
They process data to and from these devices and the memory, allowing the CPU to expend effort elsewhere. This speeds up execution of programs. host adapters.
IBM-compatible — If
component provides the same function
the original component in an IBM computer, the device or computer is IBMcompatible. This means the software and hardware devices will behave the same in the clone and the original
machine. IDE The integrated drive electronics standard for hard-disk control is the most popular
regulates the definition of a high-
speed integrated drive and controller assembly, hence the name. An adapter to transfer data to and from the hard disk is normally integrated into the motherboard, but is also available as an add-on card. The IDE specification is part of the ATA standard. AT-Attachments is the specification used in the interface for hard disk drives to the
I/O — Input/output
transfer data to
the ability of a computer to
devices. This capability can be inherent in
both hardware and software. Video cards and
USB adapters are
Hexadecimal — Unlike the standard base-10 counting system most humans use, computers often use a base-16 system
I/O often refers to a special add-in card or function
in the motherboard.
This function controls data transfer between devices inside the computer and outside, and includes interaction with other computers through a modem or external port.
IRQ — Interrupt
requests (IRQs) are signals transferred over the bus between add-in cards and the CPU. They instruct the CPU
perform immediate action. Normally IRQ lines are asserted to request the CPU coordinate transfer of data between add in devices and memory. ISA The 8- and 16-bit bus utilized by IBM and compatible computers is the industry standard architecture bus. It can accompany a VESA or PCI system. Most computers have up to three ISA connectors to ensure compatibility with older add-in cards. Java—Java is the one programming language that migrates across computer systems. There was a time everyone thought it would give Microsoft a run for the money... Killer apps Applications that excel in one manner or another are called killer apps. Legacy system This term applies to older to
computer systems, such
as the 486,
Pentium, 386, and AT.
describes the action of setting an executable file or device driver in the upper memory area or in high memory. With this command in
your CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT file, you can specify the start memory address the command must use. Before you use this command, you must initialize a memory manager such as EMM386 or QEMM. The line to start the memory manager must precede this line in the batch
Electronics Standard Association) is a high-speed I/O to CPU interface that maintains compatibility with the ISA standard interface. Logical devices Partitioning a large hard drive into smaller ones creates a logical device for each partition. DOS treats each partition as a physical device, not as a portion of one drive. A logical drive is a partition, as mentioned above. Other logical devices are RAM drives created in RAM and maintained by software control. Network drives are considered to be logical devices by your computer. Loopback adapter This is a special connector wired to allow you to test communications ports without actually
M-commerce — Now
phones are part of the Internet, you can change your dental appointment and reorient your stock that cell
portfolio just before rear-ending the car in
Math coprocessor — The math
computers had an expansion
accommodate one if required. The math coprocessor performs all the complex math operations, allowing the to
in anything else.
MCGA — Put
simply, this refers to the multi-
color graphics array
system that was used
It was noted for great improved resolution over
CGA. typically of jokes and/or obscene pictures,
normally sent during work hours
IBM computers had
The display was either green or amber. See target display adapter.
Megabyte — A megabyte (MB)
information, storage, or memory.
Megahertz — This measure of frequency is in millions of cycles per second. It is abbreviated as MHz. Clock speeds are measured
Memory — Memory
any form of storage area for program use that resides in your computer. RAM, hard disks, floppies, and is
are types of
memory. So are tape cartridges or CD-ROMs. Cache is the is
your system, and the
Microprocessor — See CPU. MIDI — The musical instrument device interface is the industry standard driving the computer interface for musical devices. It specifies connections, hardware, and software protocol.
integrated into 486DX and all faster microprocessors for IBM and compatible computers. The 486SX, 386 and earlier
channel architecture is the IBM PS/2 computer line. It is an IBM trademark and is incompatible with all other architectures past and present in any other system. MCA systems use different adapters and add-in cards, none of which will work
Lower memory — See DOS memory.
front of you.
MCA — Micro
Meatloaf — Homemade spam consisting
standard utilized in the
LoadHigh — This statement
Local bus The the Video
Mip s — Stands
for million instructions per
MMX — This term refers to the
extension to the 1985-era instruction set inside the CISC processor family. The additional 57 new instructions are used to accelerate calculations in graphics and audio applications, including 2-D and 3-D graphics, speech recognition and synthesis,
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
and video processing and types of compression. The performance expectations are an increase of 50 to 100 percent in speed while using multimedia
programs and equipment. Intel upgraded its product line to in 1997 and released a Pentium Pro in RISC format with embedded MMX. Modem— This name is an abbreviation for the actual function of the device. The modulator demodulator is an analog to digital and digital to analog converter. The modem converts digital information from a computer to analog signals that can travel through the phone lines. It accomplishes
Motherboard — The
heart and soul of a computer is the motherboard. Everything plugs into it and it serves as the information pathway to and from the CPU and each device connected to it. A motherboard typically has the CPU, RAM, cache, and IDE I/O function installed. Add-on functionality in the form of video support, hard and floppy disks, keyboards, and mice complete the computer. MS-DOS— Bill Gates before he became a millionaire. MS-DOS was the de facto standard in the 1980s for computer software.
Multitasking — Performing more than one operation at once
normally a software process in which programs and data are quickly swapped between a reserved portion of memory and the active
In a process like this, the software
long each operation remains on hold in reserved memory and
long the operation gets
If you have a faster computer, you may never notice any slowdown in operation
while your computer
The foreground process, the one you can see on the screen, is typically the one getting most of the CPU's attention. Examples of programs that use
multitasking are Windows,
Network — When you connect two
computers, you are establishing a network.
Networking computers is essential when multiple users must access common data and programs. The workplace is your most likely place to
encounter a network.
Network interface — An
add-in card to
between your computer and network communications hub is called interface
network interface card. This add-in card
processes digital signals from your computer and sends them to a common node all other users share with you. Offline — A computer not connected to another computer, network, or the Internet.
Online services — Online services are pay-foruse BBSs with advertisements. They do, however, offer connectivity to a large number of useful and enjoyable sites. Access to shareware, electronic mail, software support, and online games and chat groups are included. America Online, CompuServe, Prodigy, and the Microsoft Network are examples of online services. Page frame — On a DOS machine, the location in memory between DOS memory and 1 MB where expanded memory is indexed is called page frame memory. Parallel I/O — Transferring data using the parallel port is extremely fast. Eight or more bits of information can be sent simultaneously using the parallel I/O port
on your computer. Data transfer rates of 100 KB are not unusual using this technique. The computer's parallel or of port is the vehicle printer transportation.
Parameter — Some commands allow you specify
the program executes. Setting
different parameters in the
does Example: pkzip -ex -rp aargh.zip b:\*.* The PKWARE program pkzip has been executed. The parameters -ex and -rp this.
the program will be executed.
PC — The
first model designation IBM gave to personal computer family was PC. All personal computer manufacturers that its
made IBM compatible computers and accessories adopted this term.
The base IBM machine had 64 KB of memory, an optional tape drive instead of hard drives, and a monochrome display. Data was transferred between computers
PC-compatible— See IBM-compatible and
peripheral component interconnect
using this interface are the video adapter and the IDE I/O cards. PCMCIA Portable computers brought with them a new specification. The Personal
Computer Memory Card Industry Association I/O interconnect specification is the standard for interfacing memory, disk drives, modems, and network cards to portable computers.
Pentium — This
64-bit microprocessor is capable of operating beyond 233 MHz, and contains 16 KB of instruction cache and an internal floating-point processor. It is the current mid-range processor, replacing the
— The Pro,
included and has the
Pentium and Pentium Pro. It is packaged more like an add-in card than a processor. Current versions run at speeds beyond 400 MHz and have L2 caches of 512 KB. Offshoots of this design included the Pentium 3 and the Pentium 4. Peripheral — A device (e.g., a scanner or printer) that is not necessary for the computer to operate is a peripheral device. Internal tape drives and CDcapabilities of the
are peripheral devices, as are the
drive — The hard containing your partitions
through which any hardware device allows is its
POST — When first
you turn on a computer, the does
a power on self
runs diagnostic routines on various hardware components as specified It
errors are encountered, the test provides error in
messages or beep codes, or both. Prompt — Your computer indicates when it is ready for commands by displaying a command prompt. The prompt visual indicator can be changed using the DOS prompt command as specified in your DOS manual. PS/2 IBM recently released a new version of their Personal System/2 computer. These systems had new bus and adapter designs and were the current state of the art when
RAM — Random
486 of yesteryear. II
hardware, not a software managed partition on your (hardware) disk drive. The partitions on your hard drive, if any, are not physical drives. Ping Swiped from sonar technology, to ping an Internet address is to determine if it physical drive
standard developed by Intel specifies a very fast interface between I/O devices and the CPU. The primary add-in cards
Your floppy drives, tape drive, and CD-ROM drive are physical drives. A
Port address — The address
using a floppy disk storage device.
PCI — The
memory is computers use access
the primary to
intermediate results. When a program is executed, data flows into and out of RAM during the processing portion of the program. Only after all operations are performed is the data stored on a hard disk or floppy drive. is identified by its storage capacity and speed. (I have 16 MB of EDO 60 nanosecond in my computer.) must be refreshed, or repeatedly written to with the same data, in order to
extremely fast SRAM, which refreshing, hence the speed. Eight nanoseconds is the average pipeline cache requires no
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
ROM — The ROM
memory in your one or more programmed EPROMS with setup information specific to your computer. The programs in ROM execute when you boot the computer. ROM cannot easily be (
altered or erased.
the set of programs loaded in the ROM. Often, certain video adapters and add-in cards may have their own ROM BIOS. is
Some computers today come with FLASH BIOS. Running a software program can change EPROM memory. This is ideal as the new BIOS is released to support more hardware devices and faster CPUs. Root directory The first directory on a hard
disk or floppy diskette
the root directory.
See directoiy. Scalable Expandable to meet future needs. SCSI The small computer system interface (pronounced "scuzzy") was the fastest thing around until the high speed IDE drives became a reality. SCSI drives still hold the size record with drives in the 10 GB range
commonplace. SCSI hard drives require a special interface to run in a PC. The interface supports many more drives than are possible with any other drive architecture. — Synchronous dynamic read-only memory is the current standard for fast computer memory. It is nearly as fast as pipeline burst cache, at lONs access speed.
improvements in application speed can be achieved with SDRAM installed in a Pentium 200, 200 MMX or Significant
Pentium Pro system.
Communication occurs through one se?-ial ports in your computer. A mouse
other serial device can use the other ports.
RAM — Many
information into faster RAM devices to speed up various operations. The RAM locations specified in CMOS setup as shadow RAM are where this information is stored and executed. Single in-line memory module— A SIMM is a 32-bit path circuit board that holds memory chips. See DIMM.
Software interrupt — An interrupt command from a program that requires CPU attention is a software interrupt. These can occur upon completion of part of a program or when device drivers are invoked. Keyboard operations, drive access and certain timing services are available to programs as software interrupts. SRAM— Static RAM holds data until it is changed, eliminating refresh cycles. Subdirectory Any directory within another directory is a subdirectory. Therefore, all directories other than the root directory are subdirectories. Subdirectories allow programs to organize data and files by the application they are associated with.
practice — See
monitors. Take 30 paces, turn, and shoot! TSR —Terminate and stay resident programs are
programs that remain in memory so that you can easily call up applications within them with a hot key or other command. Some device drivers, for example mouse drivers and the DOS setver command, fall into this category.
Turnkey — "Just turn it on and it works." This by is the primary method utilized
computer system manufacturers to sell you a complete system. Since everything usually works anyway, this should not be a unique selling point for purchased systems, but it is perceived to be so. universal asynchronous UAR/T— The receiver/transmitter converts parallel bus
second, it is the most common method of interconnection between computers for
information into serial data for transfer using a modem. The device reverses the process
data transfer occurs one hit at a time, unlike parallel I/O, which transfers one byte (8 bits) at a time. The good side of serial transfer is compatibility
with modems and existing data-transfer protocol.
receipt of serial data
from a modem.
UMB — Upper available
by memory manager programs.
in the addressable
DOS memory and 1 Mb. TSR programs and part of DOS can be placed in upper memory to free up conventional area between
memory for uP-See CPU.
USB — The
universal serial bus has
standard for peripheral interconnect. (Mine has four in front and two in back. All but two have stuff hooked up.) USB replaces standard scanner, printer, tape backup system, keyboard, and mouse connectors.
Utilities— Programs that help with routine operations like backups, virus testing, and file and hard disk testing are normally either utilities or diagnostic programs. See Chapter 8 for diagnostic programs and out for this stuff.
normally doesn't work when finally released, and always falls short of expectations. Example: the first release of Windows 95. advertised before
graphics and text system that supports the previous IBM standards. It uses an analog video monitor as a display unit.
Video adapter card — This add-in card connects the video monitor with the CPU. Video adapters come in a wide range of performance and price ranges and support all
out of the loop
processing video information. Video memory
WASP — Wireless
or the faster
application service providers
are the service providers for the well-
cellular phone/Internet calling
card market. This industry has come to fruition with the advent of cellular phones that double as information storage and retrieval units.
Windows — The
used was Windows. It opened up the multitasking world to me. Windows supports multiple first
programs sharing the same resources. Windows 9x — The latest release of Windows is Windows 9x. It has more resources available and 32-bit performance. Multitasking programs run smoothly under Windows 9x. Of course, it has been replaced by Windows 2K. (In the text of book, when I refer to Windows 9X or Windows 2K, I mean Windows 95 or 98 and Windows 2000.) Windows NT — Windows NT is the true 32-bit engine from Microsoft. It has become commonplace in power systems. Windows 2K is an offshoot. this
Vaporware — Watch
VGA — Video
memory — This
a great hiding place for
polymorphic viruses. It is often fast memory and speeds up graphics applications by
XMS — The
extended memory specification is the standard that defines control of any memory above DOS memory. When you load the HIMEM.SYS driver in the
CONFIG.SYS file, XMS is set up. Other memory management programs and utilities can also set up XMS. XT — This version of the IBM PC provided extended technology enabling the user to add a hard drive to the machine. Up to 256 KB of memory could be installed. ,
Computer Cost and Performance HOW MUCH CAN YOU SAVE? This is the real question, and the reason for writing book. Let's look at some sales literature... Another big sale weekend and I have the advertisements in front of me. Disregarding the this
department store advertisements because the prices
peruse the electronic specialty stores and computer outlets for the best current prices on see are too high,
Electronics Superstore No.
Prepackaged complete home office system: Pentium 4, 1.7 system with 40-GB hard drive 17-inch .28 dot pitch monitor Mini-tower case 32-MB NVIDIA GeForce 2 video card
56K fax/modem 256
MB of RAM
48-speed CD-ROM and SB Live! sound card Satellite speakers 3.5-inch 1.4-MB floppy drive
Mouse and keyboard
ME (with manuals), Microsoft Money, and programs worth $20 shareware several generic Total: $1,359.99 Software:
Motherboard with Pentium 4, 1.8 Mid-tower case: 256 MB of PC-133 RAM: 3.5-inch 1.44-MB floppy drive: Internal 56K fax/modem: 104-style keyboard and three-button mouse: NVIDIA GeForce 2, 32-MB video card: 60-GB hard drive:
17-inch digital super
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
$29 $22 $10
$69 $149 $124
.27 dot pitch:
Pentium 4 chips are coming out that clock at 2 GHz and faster but realizes they are not costeffective; they should benchmark about the same as the 1.8-GHz chip when installed in a system. He goes the safe route and decides to
get a faster chip
package with Sound Blaster Live! sound card, speakers, and 10 CD-ROM titles: $79 Software: Windows, Millenium Edition: $89 Microsoft Encarta and 10 titles: $39
52X multimedia CD-ROM
Complete audio/video/office desktop system: Pentium 4, 1.8-GHz system with 512 MB of RDRAM Mid-tower case 60-GB hard drive 17-inch SVGA monitor with .28 dot pitch 32-MB ASUS V7100 GeForce 2 video card 52X speed CD-ROM multimedia system with speakers 56K fax/modem with voice capability Mouse and keyboard Bookshelf Software: Microsoft
Office 2000, Total:
Bold type in the Do-It-Yourself sections indicates
components that are of higher quality than the ones available in the preassembled computers.
you gloating, informing you super sale, and you will never find a system this good for the price. It is a good price indeed, but let's just see. to
this is a one-of-a-kind
much more software— 10
with the Encarta bundle and 10 titles with the CD-ROM bundle. The important hardware improvements in your package are a better motherboard, a faster processor, a larger hard
and a faster CD-ROM drive. Remember most systems from an electronics store will not come with the best components
because it is difficult for these outlets to get good prices on high-performance components. Building your own system allows you to avoid the nightmare of chasing down a hardware conflict because of these interrupt or components. You also get a 52X CD-ROM! The superstore's offering is a fairly good price on a system, but can be beaten, and without doing a lot of running around. Now, let's look at
locally advertised bargain-priced
systems and see
they can be beaten, too.
THE HOT-ROD SYSTEM John Q. Public just won the lottery— not enough to quit his job or buy that new Rolls, but he must reward himself somehow... The computer catalog shows a full-blown Pentium 4, 1.8 GHz computer. He knows
Motherboard with Pentium 4, 2 GHz CPU: Full-tower case (300W power supply): 512 GB of 800 MHz RDRAM: Two each, 3.5-inch 1.44-MB floppy drive: Internal 56K fax/modem: 104-style keyboard and three-button mouse: ASUS V8200 GeForce 3, 64-MB video card:
Western Digital 100-GB IDE hard 19-inch
$519 $45 $
$20 $12 $15
digital video monitor,
.22 dot pitch:
52X multimedia package with Sound Blaster Live! sound card, $115 52X CDROM, 16X DVDROM (2 drives): And, optionally, add these: Altec Lansing sub-woofer and surround sound system with
shown below) $89 Windows 2000 Professional: $189 Microsoft Office 2000 Pro with Bookshelf: Total to match John's system: $1,799 Software:
the optional explosive speakers mentioned
above: Total to blow
away John's system:
so once again,
with quite a
COMPUTER COST AND PERFORMANCE
beat the unbeatable price
3.5-inch 1.44-MB floppy drive: 104-style keyboard
and three-button mouse:
$35 $29 $91
BEATING A BARGAIN-PRICED PENTIUM SYSTEM
SVGA monitor .28 Software: Windows ME: 15-inch
anyone want a bare-bones Pentium computer today? Ask any student who needs a computer but doesn't have $1,000 to spend. Most stores have the come-in computer priced extremely attractively. It usually does not have an upgradable processor and comes
with a minimum of bells and whistles. Here's 15a sample.
Local Computer Outlet
Mini-tower or desktop Intel Celeron 900 with 64 MB of RAM inch .28 dot pitch monitor 20-GB hard drive 3.5-inch 1.44-MB floppy drive
48X CD-ROM Windows 98 pre-installed
MB RAM video card Mouse and keyboard
I wouldn't even think of buying a new system with these parameters. There are too many places that sell used systems like this for $200 to $400 as excellent starter systems. You can even find good Pentium 3 systems for around $550 if your needs are simple. Our objective now is to beat the price, with margin, while maintaining the option to easily upgrade to a faster computer later. The add-on components will also be Pentium-compatible.
will also include a
better video card
and larger hard drive as well as more RAM.
Mini-tower case: 128 of SDRAM:
GHz and motherboard:
$199 $19 $13
importance isn't savings but the ability to upgrade this system later. Everything is upgradable, which means all components will work with the faster Pentium 4 processors. For example, the 2-GHz Pentium 4 is a drop-in upgrade and will hop up this system beyond current speed. If you would rather upgrade to an Athalon instead, the motherboard and processor are all you need to change since the video card and all other components are compatible. The three systems whose cost I beat are priced about 10 to 30 percent below similar systems at most retail outlets. I selected these systems for comparison pricing because nobody looks for the most expensive system when selecting a computer. By building it yourself, you will save 10 to 30 percent more than this on typical computer prices. By now you're probably convinced it is possible to build a computer and save money. I have looked at this reality several times through the years and come to the same conclusion each time. Whenever I see an advertised deal on a super system, I find it easy to beat the price by building it myself. Hence, this book. But the most important fact remains undisclosed. I have been pricing complete systems that have generic components from inexpensive The parts wholesalers. real
most of these preassembled systems are not what you would pick if you in
fact, when I price system to build, I use prices of components I want in my system. I purchase high-quality components that can be upgraded if possible. PnP components and current
had the choice. In components
model items are the standard. My systems normally are three
months more current than the stores.
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
the computers sold
buy the newest
components available at reasonable prices. Systems in most stores have been assembled and put in storage somewhere, then are purchased by the retailers in bulk. I buy components
a matter of hours before
the computer. Innovations are slow to filter into the retail computer marketplace; recent examples are for the Athalon processor and
DDR RAM RDRAM for the
The article that I wrote to local retailers and a local news group several years ago follows and explains my frustration with some computer
an old example,
but representative of current issues involving
processor speed versus complete system speed. Since most currently purchasable systems do not have either RDRAM or DDR RAM installed, the article is again coming of age.
foretells the future like the past.
THE CASE OF THE SLOW PENTIUM Nowadays, the hot thing is to buy the fastest machine on the market when you keep it from being obsolete before you reach the parking lot. There are, however, some other serious considerations often ignored by the needfor-speed crowd currently purchasing the upgrade
packaged system "upgradable," assume your up with some of the slowest
designated as purchase is set components available and consider the cost of faster RAM, faster cache, and a faster video card in the projected upgrade cost. Why? Because it is not cost-effective for computer retailers to put the fastest and most expensive add-in components in their systems.
system based on processor speed alone. The benchmark data provided with this document shows why. Note the top benchmark. This is a purchased Pentium 133 MHz system compared to a Pentium 90. The difference is insignificant — certainly not worth the
significant difference in price.
The bottom benchmark compares a Pentium 120 against the same Pentium 90 tested above. This
the expected increase in
performance one would
like to see from a faster processor. The primary system difference is that I have set up my system
BIOS parameters for faster performance and purchased the faster pipeline burst cache memory. The 7 Ns cache memory is a necessary addition to any processor faster than 90 MHz, and is seldom provided on the cookie cutter 100 MHz and faster systems. The cost of upgrading cache
The moral: Don't buy
runs about $85.
you have a clear idea of the actual performance improvement you can expect, and never buy a until
system based on processor speed alone. The Pentium 133 shown in Figure 2-1 is not really optimized, as you can see. Tested while running 32-bit applications, the primary code it was designed to run, it performs barely better than a one year old Pentium 90.
2 in Figure 2-2.
This is more like it. The computer benchmarked here is a Pentium 120. I wonder why the store-bought Pentium 133 benchmarked so poorly in the test above? We learn why upon opening the case. The Pentium 133 does not have pipeline burst has the obsolete dip cache, but the Pentium 133 is six months newer than the Pentium 120 used here. This is exactly why I build my own systems. Don't get the idea I am a supreme expert whose intuitive senses ferret out the best deals; rather, I am a horribly impatient shopper and will spend $5 more if I can avoid going to the store next door. The deals out cache!
scream from every component handout and every computer magazine. (There is an extensive list of computer and trade magazines listed at the there
BUILDING THE COMPUTER YOU WANT
have examined how
saved by building our computer and found out that some packaged systems are not what they
COMPUTER COST AND PERFORMANCE
The Computer He Wanted the Best Price He Could Find on 4, 1.8
mini-tower multimedia system
128-MB RAM, 40-GB hard
48X CD-ROM 17- bit
Keyboard and mouse ME and MS Works
inch .28 dot pitch monitor
screwdriver opened the case to reveal the inner workings. We found a generic 32-MB video card, which is an inexpensive moderatespeed video adapter. Two other cards were installed— a generic modem and a generic Sound-Blaster-compatible 16-bit sound card. The motherboard was a good one, with enhanced memory support onboard. It had 128 of the fast stuff. Nothing
was revealed. After having a peek at the innards, I concluded it would be cost effective to look into building an Athalon-based system as an alternative. John just sat there with a puzzled look on his face, as he was unaware that there was life beyond Intel parts and accessories. He was about to get quite an awakening... I suggested an Athalon XP 1800+ system with a 100-GB hard drive, a DVD-ROM, a CDRW, and a network card so he could connect to the Internet via cable. I knew this was a good system, having recently made one about else of significance
have taken a good look at hard performance data from a recognized software company proving a take-out computer does indeed have that fast-food quality. Now let's take a good look at what is out there in the component categories and then buy the components we want for our custom system. John, an attorney, came to me last year wanting a good, fast computer. He was primarily interested in a Pentium system but thought a fast Pentium system was too to be.
expensive. I had been interested in several clone systems, strictly from a performance standpoint, and suggested he build one.
before the lawyer's urgent request. If you look closely, you can determine that the computer in question is the star attraction of a
book. I outlined the
case, mouse, keyboard, motherboard, RAM, a floppy drive or two, modem, video card, hard drive, monitor, and CD-ROM. Speakers and a sound card wrapped up the package. Figure 2-3 is the
an Athalon-type system.
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
Even the slower Athalon chips are very fast. John was beside himself. He was torn between buying the much slower system (out of fear) or jumping into the exciting world of building his
Deep inside, I knew would kick in, especially
his killer instincts
where money was concerned. He knew he could save money and get a better system, too. helped him with the shopping— my least favorite part. He taught me some patience in this department, so I learned something, too. I would prefer to go one place and get all the components, but John is a miser and got some I
really great deals. (Notice that eveiything list
of better quality than he
have gotten with the preassembled computer.)
Motherboard with Athalon XP 1800 + processor and fan: 512 of DDR RAM:
High-end case: Floppy times two (both 3.5-inch drives for copying office records):
modem: Keyboard and mouse bundle: ASUS V8200 GeForce3 video card: 56K
15-inch LCD monitor Ethernet card:
with stuff): Western Digital 100-GB hard drive: Sound-Blaster Live! sound card: Altec Lansing surround sound system: (free
$249 $29 $55 Total:
$20 $12 $15 $259 $299 $7 $55 $59 $0
Sony 32X CD-RW:
$319 $68 $49
just saved nearly $1,000
and got a
superior system he designed himself. Now comes the easy part. To give John an idea of what he was undertaking, I showed him the huge stack of boxes containing the parts for the project— the tower, the monitor, the accessories, the whole shebang. If that didn't terrify him, nothing would.
"Pentium Killer" processors commonly available. I decided to let John go it for the
alone this time.
That question is best evaluated by looking some benchmarks of manufactured systems. Fast-food systems will not reach these benchmarks, but they can be achieved by making your own computer. (It is possible to achieve these benchmarks with a name-brand computer. High-end Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Sony, and Gateway computers reach similar levels, but count on spending lots of money for at
and 2-5 both office and
in Figures 2-4
outline processor speed in games applications. Select the
processor to fit your needs with this information and you will be more satisfied with your choices. These two benchmarks depict clearly how your specific applications might determine your choice of processor. The youngster that lives in the 3-D world of game animation will opt for the Pentium 4, whereas an individual
more interested in a stable environment for writing or performing business-related tasks might prefer the Athalon selections. Note that the newest Athalon processor, shown in a benchmark on Figure 2-3, outperforms even the Pentium 4 2-GHz processor, but the jury is still out on which processor performs best in gaming applications with extensive 3-D rendering. I ran some tests of my own that showed that the Pentium 4 platform is still slightly better overall in gaming applications and 3-D modeling involving motion and repetitive iterations of movement and redraw. As for any other architecture differences between a Pentium-based and an Athalonbased system, I have found none. The motherboards are different, as are the support chipsets and RAM types but beyond differences that live on the motherboard, I find no unusual quirks from either architecture. All of the peripheral devices I have purchased will work with either motherboard, including the case, all plug-in modules, and all peripheral devices that are installed in the case.
a cost standpoint,
COMPUTER COST AND PERFORMANCE
increase their public exposure
by renting booths at local swap meets and user-group gatherings. Many computer shows also have a vendor section where the latest available components are shown. Watch the local newspapers to find out when these shows pass through your area.
two weeks before, John had a pile of Figure 2-3.
unfamiliar parts in front of him and no idea of what to do with them. That is where this
for Athalon-based computers.
book came into read Chapter 3
what he bought and why. (He already had read Chapters 4 and 2. That's why he knew to pick up a good video adapter and sound card.)
followed the instructions
components, then read Chapter 6 on Lisa's exploits in building
Then he was
the Athalon motherboard per the directions in the included manual, added the RAM, double-checked the jumper settings and then installed the video card, modem, and sound card. He installed both of the 3.5-inch floppy drives, the installed
Figure 2-4. System benchmarks running office-related appbcations
hundreds of dollars less. Before I go any further I want to discuss where you can find components. Most vendors like to advertise in those magazines that are distributed at no cost at electronics stores; they are prime sources for finding components. Local swap meets are also good places to
DVD-ROM. When took a look
he finished this portion, I his progress and found every
jumper and cable properly placed. He finished connecting up the IDE hard drive cable and IDE CD-ROM cables, then wrapped up internal installation by connecting the I/O cables to the rear panel of the case.
suggested he leave the cover
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
Figure 2-5. System benchmarks running games-related applications
He was one hour finished connecting
into the project
up the mouse, keyboard,
He booted up on fdisk, then
formatted his hard drive. He
Windows 2K and had
and monitor. That's how long
operational computer within two hours.
I take to build thought to myself. I noted that Lisa took 45 minutes to get to this point and wondered if it would be this easy for anyone. He turned the computer on and went into the setup routine. (He had done this before when he installed a new hard disk in his old Pentium.) He set up the hard drive, floppydrive parameters, date, and time. (All initializations and setup procedures are discussed in Chapter 6.)
Everything worked the
have built many computers and have only had to return two defective items, so I I
surprised. One was a hard drive that died after 24 hours, and the other was a motherboard with a bad CMOS battery. With today's quality control, you can be reasonably certain your components will work properly if you follow basic handling precautions.
3 Shopping a
The first order of business in building your computer figuring out what you want. The easiest way to understand your computer needs is to go out and try someone else's system, and the easiest way to try lots of systems is a trip to the computer store. This computer store may be a specialized computer and electronics outlet, a chain department store with a computer electronics section, or any other store with a moderate supply of varied computer systems. Before you go shopping, review this chapter for information on options and accessories, Chapter 5 for software, and Chapter 1 for terminology. At the store, you can get lots of mileage from sales personnel, whose objective is to keep your interest. They will, however, attempt to get you to purchase an expensive system you may not need. This is their sole purpose in life and the reason so many people return their first computer purchase. Their intent is seldom to provide you the computer you need; rather, it is to offer you the computer they want to sell. Try many computers of varying processor types, speeds, and with as many different accessories as possible. Get a feel for the IBM-compatible computer, the wide variety of configurations and options, and the tremendous number of software products available. Do not be afraid to ask questions and get second opinions on everything any salesperson tells you. After you cut through the sales hype, categorize the systems you have looked at into groups you can evaluate. is
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
WHAT IS A COMPUTER? THIS BLOCK DIAGRAM WILL GIVE
YOU SOME IDEA
SHOPPING FOR A COMPUTER
I'll discuss my categories and the reason for the groupings. Your individual requirements may necessitate making categories different
PUBLISHING AND MULTIMEDIA SYSTEM
than mine. The objective of this exercise is to determine which computer is right for you.
improvements listed above, the multimedia system adds a CDROM, a sound card, 246 MB more RAM, an
even larger hard drive (100 GB), and often a
In addition to the
19-inch or larger digital monitor. Speakers to
Beginning computer owners may wish to build a "basic system" to minimize
expenditures as they develop an understanding of their total computer requirements. They can add hardware or software options later as they begin to use the system and define their long-term needs. A
bare-bones system will have a minimum of RAM, a small hard drive, a basic video card, basic I/O capability, a small monitor, a
keyboard, and a basic mouse. Software operating systems may or may not be included. Bare-bones systems are available in Intel Celeron,
AMD Duron and Athalon versions.
DESKTOP PUBLISHING SYSTEM Compared
basic system, the components that create a desktop publishing system include more RAM (at least 256 MB), a larger hard drive (60 GB), a good video card, a to
and a modem (56K fax/modem). The desktop publishing system typically has Windows 2000 and one or more publishing or office suite programs included. A good quality laser or color ink jet printer is normally added to such a package. larger monitor, (17-inch digital),
reproduce the stereo multimedia effects are added, and a joystick or flight controller or both are included. Few people need all this in a system but many purchase it, only to realize later they have made a mistake. Each one of these groups can have a Pentium 4 or Athalon microprocessor-based computer as the core system, and basically the only difference in performance will be the speed at which each system is capable of operating. Most of the software out there runs well on a Celeron or Duron and great on a Pentium 4 or Athalon-based system. When deciding which speed is right for you take everything into consideration, including the software you intend to run. Processing speed is the biggest selling point of most systems. The data throughput, or actual processing speed, is measured in millions of instructions per second (mips). It is useful to compare the speed of an old XT computer with today's Pentium 4. The XT processes data
0.75 mips, while the slower
Pentium 4 processors run about 10,000 mips. A Pentium 4 2-GHz microprocessor-based system is approximately 15,000 times faster than my first PC and infinitely easier to build. By this point in your exploration you have
CPU DATA IBM XT 8086
42 million +
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
hopefully tried out several computers and know which processor best fits your needs and budget. Remember, Celeron-based systems can generally be upgraded to Pentium 4 speed with the simple installation of an Athalon processor and motherboard, and that makes the Celeron system a good place for the budget-minded person to start. The Pentium 4 system, though more expensive, is still open-ended and has no speed limitation. Faster Pentium chips are constantly being offered. The Pentium 4 2GHz system is running about 420 times faster than my XT, and 2 GHz (and faster) chips are available as a drop-in upgrade for most motherboards. One final look at processor speed is available with the CPU Data Chart on
up a slot for more options. If you build a Pentium 4-based system, buy the fastest motherboard you can but don't buy one with an integrated sound card. You may not be satisfied with its level of sound card performance for the life of the motherboard. In general, do not lock yourself into a level of performance you may later regret. I mention this now because the price of a motherboard with an integrated sound card may influence you to purchase one, particularly if you associate a high price with a better motherboard. Now is a good time to talk about hardware and options. I separate hardware into two
the previous page.
groups: internal options and external add-ons.
modems, and game
built-in interface is faster than
an add-on card
more work them first.
Obviously, internal options require
THE CLONES OF NOTE
offers microprocessors that are compatible or better in performance than motherboards that support Intel's Pentium 4 line. The chips are both cheaper and faster than their Pentium counterparts according to certain brands of benchmarking software. Across the entire domain of processor platforms, the product line is dominant in performance. of In 1987, a 133 MHz system with 8
and no monitor was comparable Pentium
about $300 less than a 75 system, and it was faster. This fact still holds true today; the Athalon 1.4-GHz processor and motherboard is faster than a Pentium 4, 2 GHz processor and motherboard and costs $375 less. How much CPU do you need? Weigh the options available to you against your budget. If a CPU selection drives you to the poorhouse, that's not the processor for you.
buy the most open-ended
(upgradable) system you can afford. If you upgrade a Celeron or Duron-based system, insist on a motherboard with onboard sound card support and USB or Firewire. Onboard USB support enables you to configure your PnP I/O components more easily. USB is becoming the standard input/output controller
will look at
INTERNAL OPTIONS Here is a list of the hardware required to build a basic computer, starting with the motherboard, case, and everything that goes inside. This is just a
of the components, as well as pictures, can be later in this chapter. These are the standard required components, to which you may add options such as a memory stick reader for your digital camera or a DVD-ROM drive—-as your needs grow.
Motherboard the main component of the motherboard. The microprocessor, RAM, BIOS, cache, and all add-on cards plug into the The
motherboard. It is the heart of any computer and determines the speed and flexibility of your system. The microprocessor can be anything from a Celeron to a Pentium 4 and beyond.
components except the monitor and external items fit inside the case and operate from a power supply inside the case. A fan integrated into the power supply cools the power supply and all internally installed All
SHOPPING FOR A COMPUTER
components. An additional fan is often on the microprocessor for
on the cache memory, the fast RAM that stores information passing to and from in detail later in this chapter. Included
Memory memory is installed
motherboard and consists of memory modules. SIMM modules
Sound cards were invented to expand the computing experience by processing sound from digital information. Certain programs and games provide sound and music during execution. The sound plays from either headphones or external speakers. A sound
one of the most important pieces of a
multimedia system and most new games would be useless without one.
The primary way your computer
IDE I/O This function
normally integrated into all disk operations and all external input/output functions are controlled by it. The integrated disk electronics and input/output functions are available as a separate add-on card for motherboards without a built-in IDE I/O or for those people that like multiple hard disks and is
the motherboard, and
Video Card This add-on card allows the computer to display text and graphics on your monitor. The range of performance in video cards is remarkable and will be discussed later in this chapter.
Hard Disk Drive Most
primary information, including the operating system, is stored on your hard of the
basic exception to this
setup information, which
BIOS Most new
stored in the
ROM discussed later in this chapter.
motherboards and cases support multiple hard disk drives. All installed programs and data you create are stored and run from the hard
through the telephone lines (The modem gets its name
the operations it performs communications signals passing through
and from your computer. Modulator and demodulator operations are discussed later in this chapter.) The modem takes information
from your communication program and converts it to analog signals for transmission over telephone cables. The signals are sent through the phone line to a destination you select. Most modems have FAX and voice capability as well.
amounts of data and visual
information can be stored on a compact disk and later accessed using a CD-ROM (compact disk read only memory) drive. This read-only type of media is the heart of the multimedia experience because programs up to 650 in size can be stored on a single density CDROM. This opens up avenues for extensive graphics, including moving pictures and sound. The medium is similar to the compact disks you enjoy in your home stereo system.
Tape Drive System The tape drive backup systems currently
Floppy Disk Drive
installed, a hard disk drive has
information on it. You will install and operating systems on your hard disk using either a floppy disk drive or a
programs you acquire will be installable using a floppy disk drive or
available are the most important protection available for today's
computer systems. For
under $100 you can protect the contents of your hard drive from data loss. A tape drive and the tapes are cost-effective, easy to use, and reliable.
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
The display monitor is one of the most important parts of the computer, and one of the most expensive. You will see and use the monitor more than any other part of the computer, so it had better suit your needs. You will upgrade the motherboard, keyboard, mouse, and most of the internally installed components long before you upgrade or replace the monitor. The sizes and options will be discussed later in this chapter.
Mouse Most programs today make use of the mouse, a pointing device. It is primarily used to select options in programs and to start programs. Several options and configurations are available and are discussed later in this chapter.
Keyboard The keyboard
the primary device you use to input data and control programs into a computer. It is set up similar to a standard typewriter keypad, but has several other is
options and keys to expand
use on the PC.
Modem, CD-ROM, Tape
Drive These three devices, discussed above as internal parts, are common items you can also purchase as externally mounted accessories. They interface through cables attached to I/O ports on the back of the computer.
Now let's take a options within each
more detailed look at the component category. This is where you make an informed decision on exactly how much computer you will build. Remember, maximum performance usually means more cost, but weigh your requirements against the future and your pocketbook when deciding. Remember, you normally do not have the option to select any of the components if you purchase a packaged system from a retail outlet.
The cabinet and integrated power supply constitute the case. There are several different
case styles available, such as mini-, medium-,
and full-tower cases. Flat desktop styles commonly used in older systems are still available.
Choose the case type only
have selected everything else, since the case size can limit your options. A mini-tower case, for example, will not house two floppy drives, a CD-ROM drive, and a tape backup system, and neither will most basic desktop cases. Power consumption is also a factor, but case designers typically take this into consideration when they make the cases. A mini-tower case should be rated at 200 watts minimum. A medium-tower case should be rated at 250 watts, and a full-tower case should support at least 300 watts of accessories. The larger cases have more drive and accessory bays, so the power supply must provide more power. The power supply inside the case takes the 117 VAC from your wall socket and converts it to the +5, +12, -5, and -12 volts the computer requires. The power supply fan must be kept free of dust and obstructions, so don't let anything block the part of the case where the fan is mounted. Blocking the airflow through your computer will result in heat damage to one or more of the internal components. This fan is the only source for cooling in most computers. As is true with all computer components, prices for cases cannot be depended upon to
IMPORTANT NOTE: Some
tower system packaged, do not have the cases, when power switch installed. It typically interferes with the packaging. To install the switch, follow the wiring information carefully. This is the only part of the installation that can cause you harm. If you have any doubt whether the switch is
wired properly, consult the sales personnel where you purchased the case.
SHOPPING FOR A COMPUTER
remain constant. Advances in technology and market forces drive costs down steadily. Use the following prices for reference only. Desktop cases run about $22 with a 150watt power supply. You can get a 200-watt
version for about $37. Mini-tower cases start at around $30 with a 230-watt power supply. Both mid-tower and full-tower cases with 230watt power supply go for about $45. The same case with a 300-watt power supply
You can spend more colors, styles,
with special or other gimmicks, but I don't for cases
necessary for proper computer operation is configurable in BIOS. More information on BIOS setup parameters is available in Chapter 8. included with the The manual motherboard will tell you if your BIOS will support a specific microprocessor. Certain processors, like the
type of upgrade information in a computer store! The Athalon motherboard will support both the standard Athalon up to 1.4 GHz, and
fans are safer than one. Nothing kills a great computer faster than an unconnected fan failure.
system. A Pentium 4 system has a Pentium 4 CPU loaded on a Pentium-style motherboard. Athalon-style CPU bundles have Athalon microprocessors
Motherboard/Processor Compatibility A motherboard capable of accepting each grouping of processors within a family will accept higher or lower speed processors in the same family. Example: a motherboard capable of handling a Pentium 4, 2
accept a slower processor in the Pentium 4 family. For cost reasons, this is good information. The same goes for the Athalon processors. The basic family of groupings currently available are Athalon and Duron, from AMD, and Pentium 4, Pentium 3, and Celeron, from Intel. For the time being, this is what is available. Benchmarks for each type of processor can be found in Chapter 2. The BIOS is information stored in a programmable memory device on the motherboard. This information allows you to
configuration for various options. CPU speed, type and quantity, and other information
Duron and Athalon,
to get this
are as fast as a comparable Pentium-type. Try
recommend it generally. If you spend a few dollars more for a case with an extra fan, however, it is money well spent, since two
The biggest difference between PC models is the motherboard and central processing unit, or microprocessor. The CPU type
version, which operates at 1.8 GHz. Figure 3-1 shows a standard Athalon
motherboard. This motherboard has onboard
slot for the
capabilities. It includes a
This is a motherboard with jumperless configuration capability, meaning that the BIOS can auto-detect and set up your processor and RAM. Ideally, this is the best option you can have at your table when building for the first time. It is an extension of the
Fast Processor, Slow Computer Why does a fast processor like the 2 GHz Pentium 4 run slowly on the average home user's system? Most of us are currently using programs written with 16-bit code embedded in the operating system and programs we use or plan to use. Even Windows 98 has both 16-bit and 32-bit code. Windows NT, however, is a true 32-bit operating system. How many of you are using or planning to use Windows NT? Not
The speed of the 2 GHz Pentium 4 processor will be more evident with updated software. are better 32-bit choices.
used to be that the bulk of
was 16-bit software, written in 16-bit code, with 16-bit compilers, using 16-bit available
devices did not have
you are old components, don't expend a Pentium 4 or Athalon-based
32-bit drivers or software available. If
hanging on to the
system for this reason. The average home system must be capable
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
of efficiently processing both 16-
and 32-bit code. The Pentium 4 can do this, but since it is optimized for 32-bit code, it slows down considerably running 16-bit code.
normally runs slower than an Athalon-based system running the same 16-bit program.
Most motherboards have
feature for energy savings called "the green feature." It enables you to set the
This can save quite a bit
BIOS. of energy in
on a system left unattended. The green feature can be found in many peripherals for today's computers, including monitors, printers, scanners, and some highend cases. Figure 3-1 has both AGP and PCI bus slots. The next few paragraphs describe the bus types. These slots are for the various addon cards. Add-on cards provide video display capability, sound support, hard-disk control, and many other functions. These cards and others are discussed in detail later in this chapter.
Most of the add-on cards used Figure 3-1. An Athalon motherboard for AMD Athalon 1400 + CPU. in different system types are similar. The primary difference between cards is the bus type. This is why The 386 and 486 had a 32-bit bus, and the it is just as easy — or easier — to build a Pentium 4 has a 64-bit bus. Even if there were Pentium 4 screamer as an ancient 386 no other advantages, the 64-bit bus (64 lanes system. The primary reason is that current of traffic) moves data eight times faster. motherboards for all processor types are The ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) more flexible in ease of configuration, and bus was introduced in the first PCs and support an increasingly large number of remains one of the standards. This standard, add-on cards. The only real differences in however, limits the I/O bus size to 16 bits and computer architecture are determined by the I/O speed to 8 - 10 MHz. Currently the motherboard. The architecture available motherboards no longer have slots mentioned above refers to the parallel data other than PCI (peripheral component bus to and from the components on the interconnect) and AGP for add-in cards, with motherboard. Data in an XT computer few exceptions. The AMR slot (13) on Figure 3traveled on an 8-bit parallel bus. Envision 1 is an exception to this rule. eight lanes of traffic. To increase data All Athalon and Pentium motherboards incorporate a PCI bus that is 64-bits wide. This throughput, a 286 system doubled the bus to 16 bits of parallel data transfer. bus is stand-alone and is not downward
8 9 1
SHOPPING FOR A COMPUTER
Motherboard Components LOCATION
Processor support: Chipsets:
761 System Controller VIA VT82C686B PCIset
2 Mbit Programmable
Main Memory: Maximum of 2 Gigabytes 2 DIMM Sockets
PC2100/PC1600 DDR memory support
5 PCI slots 1
Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) Pro
IDE Connectors (UDMA/100 Support)
Serial Port connector
Serial Port connector
header (Port 2,3) PS/2 Mouse Connector (top)
PS/2 Keyboard Connector (bottom)
PCI Audio Chipset 1
Line Out Connector,
Microphone Connector (bottom)
Line in Connector (bottom)
Network Support: 3Com Fast Ethernet Controller LAN (RJ45 Connector (top)
Floppy Disk Controller Driver Connector
Power Supply Connector Onboard LED
Table 3-1. Motherboard components for Figure
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compatible to the ancient VLB 16- or 8-bit buses. It has one great feature: it supports PnP compatible add-on cards. As previously mentioned, PnP means you install the card and the computer interface sets the DMA and IRQ settings for you. Unfortunately, all PCI motherboards also exclude the 8- and 16-bit bus slots for your 8- and 16-bit add-on cards. Looks like time to clean house... Speed is the most significant difference among CPUs, and the reason faster processors are more expensive. One factor in CPU speed is how the CPU handles instructions. Of the CISC processors, the Athalon and Pentium are kings. CISC, or complex instruction set processors, have a large instruction set built into the chip.
through a built-in
of instructions to find the ones necessary
are faster than the Pentium, but...
There are more than 75,000 programs that run on a Pentium. Nearly all of these programs must be translated if they are to run on a RISC machine, because the RISC processor only understands instructions written in its unique language. The chore of translation slows the program to a crawl, so the RISC processor running a Pentium-based program is up to 50 percent slower. In other words, an Indy race car runs great on a closed racetrack, but will never survive New York's pothole-laden city streets. For the time being, if you want speed and compatibility, select a fast Athalon or Pentium-style motherboard. Intel, in its infinite wisdom, decided to and utilize its 0.18-micron technology, X86 instructions, and the finest aspects of both the Pentium and the Pentium Pro, and go back to the drawing board. What evolved from these efforts is the currently unsurpassed CPU called the Pentium 4. With speeds exceeding 2 GHz, the Pentium 4 is the current state of the art for the high-end computer owner, sharing that distinction with the slower clocked, but
Built-in functions available on the newer motherboards include the EIDE interface for IDE hard drives. A floppy disk controller and
support for four IDE devices, including IDE CD-ROM drives, is part of this package. Support for two serial ports, a 16550 UAR/T, one parallel port, and one game port complete the
IDE I/O functions
built into this group. This
group of built-in connectors eliminates the need for an I/O add-on card and an IDE add-on card, freeing up one or two PCI slots in your
and ports, and you finish the enhanced IO for other options.
capability of current motherboards.
Some motherboards include
RISC (reduced instruction set) processors, like the DEC Alpha AXP and Apple's PowerPC, have a much smaller instruction set. They can process data at speeds of 1,500 mips. These RISC processors to
as well, but
a SCSI adapter
disk controller. However, the SCSI has additional uses, including support for external scanners, backup systems, and sound card add-on peripherals. The SCSI interface is widely used in Macintosh computers, but the lower cost as
and easier installation of IDE components makes the IDE system more attractive to most
Avoid onboard video adapters. The video standard industry is advancing rapidly, and six
You need the
generation of accessories.
performance by spending less than $100 to drop in the latest upgrade. Many software packages spell out a level of video performance required to run the program, and you need the option of easily upgrading to keep up with your future needs. Sound card options are often added to the motherboard. Once again, if you want to keep up with high-end performance in this department, do not buy a motherboard with Sound systems are integrated sound. increasing in capability, yet they require fewer computer resources. Keep this portion of your system open to easy upgrading with a plug-in sound card.
of the feature built-in motherboard is the ability to self-test (POST) when you turn on the computer. This POST is
one of the many features stored
SHOPPING FOR A COMPUTER
chip. In addition to self-testing, other features are loaded into the BIOS, such as the entire
create the first time
power up a new system. This configuration information is the only portion
As you can see, the motherboard is the heart of your computer system. A basic upgrade to a faster computer starts here, and many upgrades require only changing the motherboard or CPU. Simple upgrades, like improving video quality, sound support, or
BIOS you can change or modify without a chip or disk from the manufacturer. Support for larger hard drives and PnP add-on cards is included in newer BIOS. When you purchase a motherboard, look for one
with PnP BIOS that supports mode 4 EIDE HDD and DMA-66 protocol. This is necessary to have support for the newest generation of hard drives and the plug and play add-on cards. Fortunately, the BIOS chip is normally installed in a socket, and can be replaced or updated with a file from the manufacturer. The motherboard manufacturer will be able to upgrade your BIOS by sending you an updated BIOS disk if you request it. You can also update BIOS with files available on the Internet from the manufacturer. As new features are added to the BIOS, you can easily
intermediate results, high-speed typewriter. When a computer compiles data while running a program, portions of the program and data are loaded
update your motherboard. motherboards support
BIOS. This is the type of BIOS that can be easily updated with a floppy disk or file provided by the motherboard manufacturer. With this capability, you don't even have to open the case! When you build a computer and turn it on for the first time, it has to be configured. The system configuration setup program needs information about the hardware present in your system. You input this information the first time, and it is stored and reused every time you turn on the computer. This subject is addressed in detail at the conclusion of Chapter 6. flash
Memory Without memory
extracts portions of the data, performs operations on the data and sends it back to the RAM. This interaction may occur thousands of times during the execution of a program. Only after all the processing is completed is the data sent to a more permanent storage device such as your hard disk or floppy. Often, the data is used to display something on the monitor, send information to a printer, or prompt you
more input. Another type of memory is the ROM, which holds the BIOS information mentioned in the motherboard section of this chapter. for
memory is read only, and is utilized on power-up to configure your computer for use. Most computers have between 64 and 512 MB of RAM installed on the motherboard. The This
normally consists of integrated circuits mounted on a small 132-pin DIMM. Larger DIMM modules are being utilized, but this is currently the most popular size. Each DIMM contains between 64 and 512
time you turn
and a computer would be a
to store instructions
RAM. The CPU accesses the RAM,
small battery installed on the motherboard. If this battery fails and has to be replaced, you must reconfigure the computer. Keep a record of
configure the computer automatically the
require only changing add-
modules on the motherboard.
The configuration information is stored in volatile memory, which is kept alive with a
your CMOS setup in writing, taped somewhere inside the computer case, to prevent real headaches later. A PnP motherboard will always
RAM. The most common type of RAM synchronous dynamic RAM, called SDRAM. of
must be refreshed often during
program execution in
or the information stored
another type of RAM is SRAM. Static holds data until it is changed, eliminating refresh cycles. is used for temporary storage primarily because each element of information can be accessed and Still
as often as necessary. This
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access means. Random access can be modified in part or in whole, depending on the program you are running and its requirements at the time. Any memory location can be addressed, read, or written to independently of all other memory locations. Data stored on a hard drive or floppy disk, on the other hand, is stored sequentially. It cannot be accessed or changed one byte at a time. This makes access to floppy and hard drive memory a much slower process than RAM access. This is noticeable when you run a large program that runs out of RAM. The computer will use part of your hard drive to temporarily store information normally stored in RAM. You will notice the computer slow down while it searches the hard drive for the temporary results to process. When you hear someone talk about a swap file, they are
referring to this process.
in 8-bit increments called bytes. The can process one byte of information at a time. The 16-bit 286 can handle 2 bytes. The 32-bit 386 and 486 can process 4 bytes simultaneously. The Pentium, or Athalon, with its 64-bit bus, can handle 8 bytes (which is 64 bits) simultaneously. Memory utilization is important, particularly for DOS-based programs. DOS, the disk-operating system significantly less prevalent on most current PCs, requires its core programs to live in RAM the entire time you use the computer. DOS, unfortunately, only allows you to use the first 640 KB of memory in your computer. It reserves the next 384 KB for programs you specify in setup files to run in upper memory. Anything above that, unless specially addressed by certain programs, is invisible to DOS. This includes all the additional DIMM memory you can install on the motherboard. This means large programs will not run fast (if at all) in DOS. Special programs called memory managers allow large DOS-based programs to run. Memory managers give DOS programs the ability to use the additional
installed in your
to programs normally memory. Windows, OS/2, and all Windows XX programs are three operating systems groups that get around the 640-KB limit imposed by DOS. These programs have memory managers, and all three make use of the expanded and extended memory available. Refer to EMM, Expanded Memory, and Extended Memory in Chapter 8 for more details on these subjects. We talked about DIMM memory earlier and mentioned the common sizes. Now let's talk about configuration on the motherboard. Memory on the motherboard is configured in banks of DIMM. Usually, a motherboard will have between two and four banks of DIMM. The banks are usually numbered from 0 to 3, and loaded sequentially with DIMM, normally from the lowest numbered bank to the highest. You can load any number of banks with DIMM, but each bank you load must be filled. (Some motherboards auto-detect memory, enabling you to load any bank, instead of the lowest first. All new motherboards support 132-pin DIMM, which comes in both EDO [extended data output] and SDRAM
allocating portions of
EDO DRAM fast
has arrived in force, and in a can be 10 percent faster than
conventional memory. EDO RAM also costs about 10 percent more than normal DRAM. is and regular Mixing EDO like mixing matter and anti-matter, so don't. If you need speed, buy it. The difference is evident in extremely fast games and complex graphics programs. Finally, SDRAM is a current evolution
times faster than EDO access speed, RAM. Don't consider operating an 800 MHz or it is six
computer without SDRAM. The next step up is DDR RAM for the Athalon processor, and RDRAM for the Pentium 4 processor. Both architectures are discussed in the next paragraph on RAM selection. faster
DDR SDRAM for all
the current state of the art
SHOPPING FOR A COMPUTER
data transfer to occur on both the rising and edge of the data clock pulse to the RAM. With this method of data transfer, the effective speed of operation is increased
beyond 200 MHz. Note that the bus width is 64 bits on this configuration. This is necessary when comparing its performance to RDRAM, the Rambus offering for Pentium 4 computers.
can be clocked such that it can achieve an effective 800 MHz of operation. The only drawback is that the architecture is limited to a 16-bit bus. This means that it can only run at 200 MHz, when you compare the bus width with the 64-bit bus of the
is fast. It
DDR SDRAM. DDR SDRAM
from the previous standard of 144pin SDRAM, so be certain when purchasing a motherboard that you know the number of pins of each RAM slot (144 for SDRAM and 168 for DDR SDRAM, for example). Your a departure
motherboard documentation will tell you which types and sizes of RAM it supports. Assume the Pentium 4 motherboards will require RDRAM, and the AMD Athalon motherboards will require DDR SDRAM. Another price issue: Like the significant difference between the prices of an processor versus the comparable, but slower, Pentium 4 version, DDR SDRAM is much cheaper than RDRAM. For example, today's prices show 512 MB of DDR SDRAM is $75, while the same size in RDRAM is $230. The AMD approach continues to be significantly less expensive than the Pentium 4 equivalent. Cache memory is one way to speed up a computer. Many times during its execution a program must loop several times through the same steps. The computer uses cache memory— consisting of 256 KB or 512 KB of very fast SRAM memory chips— to store these repetitive operations. Considering that a fast memory chip runs at 60 NS
processing speed of
was a recent addition the high-speed improvements for faster Pipeline burst cache
machines. It is significantly faster than SRAM cache, and improved the benchmark of a
Pentium 120 by 20 percent. Refer to Chapter 2 to see how much improvement pipeline burst cache made in 32-bit performance as reported by Norton Utilities for Windows 95. Memory is the easiest upgrade you can perform on a computer. You just find the lowest numbered open bank and fill it with a memory module. Be advised, however, that memory can be the single most expensive item in the computer.
IDE I/O Cards The IDE hard disk interface and I/O functions are normally paired in a single assembly. This is true whether they share the same add-on card or are incorporated into the motherboard design. The input/output functions normally supported include game controller and printer support. The primary I/O function is support for two serialcontrolled devices, the mouse and the modem. Note that the only way to increase the number of CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, or hard drives in your computer is by adding an IDE I/O card. Though they used to be an add-in device in all computers, this function is now a normally built-in function. I have a motherboard with a DMA66 controller for enhanced hard drive support, and a standard secondary port that supports two other IDE devices. If I want to
add any additional devices, such as a
CD-ROM or DVD-ROM DVD recorder or CD-RW
one of these cards
accomplish the task.
Most enhanced IDE I/O cards support two floppy disk drives, four IDE hard drives or
communication (COM) ports, one parallel printer port, and one game controller port. The non-enhanced versions normally included in purchased computers only support two hard drives or CD-ROM drives. I am currently running two 100 GHz hard drives, a
are just a few of the types of installable
We will look at the devices that connect to the I/O portion of your computer later in this chapter. Figure 3-2 shows an enhanced local bus IDE I/O CARD.
Video Cards The monitor is useless
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without a video adapter card. This card takes the digital
information from your programs and converts it to
analog information in a format
your monitor can display. Most video adapters have both text and graphics support. To display text, the adapter looks up a typed character in displays a bit
An enhanced IDE
most video graphics displays are a function of pro-
gramming. Video adapter software allows the user to put lines, graphs, pictures, and almost any type of image on your computer screen. Some video cards are referred to as graphics accelerator cards. They perform certain graphics display functions without interrupting the CPU. This
possible because they have special functions builtis
ASUS V8200 GeForce
and can handle many operations called out by programs without processing data over the bus. Any operation
4X AGP video card.
processed without bus interaction is very fast. Certain video cards even have their own built-in microprocessor.
Video cards normally have RAM installed to save having to go through the bus to use the motherboard RAM. Standard video RAM size is 32 MB, which allows you to display 16 million colors at 1,024 * 768 resolution. A better choice is 64 MB of RAM, because you can display 16 million colors at any resolution. This is a must for 17 inch and larger monitors. Most high-quality video cards are available both in PCI and AGO bus types. Figure 3-3 shows a premium video card in AGP bus format. Though 32-MB video cards are available, they typically have limited graphics
support and are not generally considered viable purchases for today's computers.
an important consideration in
video processing. Purchasing a 2X or 4X AGP video card will produce a considerable speed improvement over a 32-MB PCI video card. You will notice a significant difference, particularly if you use graphics-intensive games or CAD programs. To work with an SVGA (super video graphics array) monitor, a video card should have video accelerator functions and 64 MB of memory. Never buy a SVGA monitor without also purchasing an AGP bus video accelerator adapter card. For true colors and depth, a good video card is necessary. If you have interest in running video graphics from CD-ROM or external video sources, consider an MPEG (motion pictures
SHOPPING FOR A COMPUTER
expert group) video adapter. This adapter supports video compression and decompression, allowing you to capture and display true motion video. Video adapters that support 3-D games and movies are available as well. All video cards that meet MPEG requirements are identified, but I believe most of the current models support this
Hard Disk Drives hard drive installed
The in your computer is the primary storage and retrieval device. Most of the programs you run will be executed from the hard drive. Programs are read into memory, then executed. Data from the programs is stored on the hard drive to be used later. Any permanent data you save is stored on the hard drive in a format that allows you or the program to retrieve it
which are divided into Each sector is 512 bytes in length.
into concentric tracks,
are larger than 512 bytes, the
system will record as much of a file as will fit one sector, then look for the next available sector. The remainder of the file will be stored
in available sectors as they are located.
During formatting, sectors are grouped into allocation units. No more than one file can be written in the same allocation unit, but a file may span several allocation units. The
of sectors per allocation unit varies
with the size of the hard drive. A 200 MB hard drive has allocation units composed of eight sectors, but a 100 MB hard drive allocation unit is only four sectors in size. (You can get more data on a large hard drive if you partition it into several logical drives. This is particularly true if you have lots of small files. More on partitioning hard drives can be found in Chapter 6.) With all of this data stored on a hard drive, how does the computer find it? A portion of the hard drive is reserved to store a file allocation table, or FAT.
file, and updates each time the hard drive is accessed. The computer is smart enough to make a copy of
location of each part of every itself
the FAT in case the original is damaged or if you have a disk manager utility program, as mentioned in Chapter 9.
hard drive may be made of several disk and many heads, to read from and write to the platters. This makes the hard drive fragile and sensitive to rough handling. Hard drives are factory sealed to prevent dust from platters,
entering; the smallest dust or cigarette
can destroy a hard drive by becoming lodged between one of the heads and a platter. If this happens, all data on the affected disk surface will be unreadable and lost. Care should be exercised when moving your computer or handling a new hard drive particle
prior to installation.
The hard drive
sensitive to motion, especially is turned on. Avoid computer unless it is turned off.
The two primary
specifications used in
small computer disk interfaces are EIDE and SCSI. The recently added EIDE specification improves the IDE format to handle larger
drive configuration junipers.
hard drives and improves the transfer rate of data to 133 MB per second. All IDE hard drives are supported by the EIDE format. There are other formats for disk control, but they are either obsolete or seldom utilized. (DMA33 and DMA66 are two extensions of the IDE data transfer method that allow information to pass faster between the hard drives and, ultimately, the CPU. They have
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
distinctly different methods on interconnection with the motherboard and cannot be mixed on the same cable. This is an important fact to consider, since a CD-ROM
DVD-ROM cannot DMA66 hard drive.) or
share a cable with a
IDE hard drives are recommended for several reasons, including ease of configuration and standardization. The IDE control system is inexpensive and is often included on the motherboard. IDE drives can be chained on the same controller, and up to four IDE drives can be easily installed. More are possible, but the installation becomes somewhat complicated. More on configuration in Chapter 6, and refer to Figure 3-4 for a quick look now. Regarding IDE standardization, some IDE hard drive manufacturers bend the standard a bit. Occasionally different brands of IDE hard drive may not be compatible when installed
The best approach is to install drives from the same manufacturer. Who uses SCSI hard drives and why? The primary reason some people move to SCSI hard drives seems to be the capability of installing seven logical devices on one adapter. You can install up to four interface boards, but can only have a maximum of 24 SCSI devices. Each device must be hardware addressed with jumpers to a unique logical unit number, or together.
Other reasons are that some SCSI hard drives are a bit faster than equivalent IDE hard drives, and SCSI hard drives are available in extremely large sizes. A friend of mine recently installed a 180 GB SCSI hard drive! Why eludes me. The safer approach is to spend less on each hard drive and use multiple drives. A hard drive crash is less traumatic if you have multiple drives; you only have to replace a portion of your total storage capacity, and the cost is much lower. While we're on the subject of hard drives, here's a useful offshoot from the basic hard disk storage system: the removable disk drive system. Several types are available, and each one has
own noteworthy features. Peerless from drive
is a popular choice and among the best removable drives. It is one of the most popular removable drives, in sizes ranging from 5 GB to more than 20 GB. One feature of this drive
mechanism. It can be dropped from a height of 6 feet with no internal damage to the drive. If this drive is the only drive in your system, you can remove your work and store it somewhere safe when you leave your computer. It can also be used in conjunction with an existing hard drive; a common use is as a backup system. It comes in USB format. This drive is only available as an external drive, and is more expensive in that format since you have to pay for the additional hardware and power supply. Expect to spend $200 - $300. One disadvantage of this system is the lack of access speed. It is slower than newer hard drives. It is a smaller capacity storage medium, much smaller than the 100 GB - 200 GB drives commonly utilized. The clear advantage is the built-in crash protection. The Bernoulli drive has flexible disks, and even if the head comes in contact with the disk, it seldom damages it. If it's properly packaged, you can even send the drive to another user through the mail without concern for damage. The Iomega zip drive uses a 3.5-inch cartridge. Similar in appearance to a standard 3.5-inch floppy disk, this system can store up to 100 MB on each cartridge. The zip drive is inexpensive at about $100, and the cartridges run about $10. This system could replace your hard drive, but capacity is a limitation. A better use for it is as a backup system. Another popular removable hard storage medium is the SyQuest drive. SyQuest has a line of removable hard drive cartridges with capacities up to 270 MB uncompressed. Disadvantages include small capacity, slow access speed, and the requirement of a SCSI interface for the drive. Zone bit recording (ZBR) is the recording method utilized to reach the 270 MB capacity. Each disk is divided into zones. The longer outside tracks are divided into a smaller number of sectors, with a large number of
bytes per sector.
The inner tracks
SHOPPING FOR A COMPUTER
the material's resistance to being magnetized,
number of sectors, but have a smaller number of bytes per sector, which increases the storage capacity significantly. Nearly all other systems stick with 512 bytes per sector. SyQuest offers both internal and external SCSI drives, and several drives that operate
enabling you to store data on it. When the area cools down it regains the resistance to being magnetized or demagnetized. This gives your stored data a lifetime five times the life of normally stored data. Common shelf lives exceed 10 years. These drives have a relatively small storage capacity— normally 120 to about
into a larger
The PCMCIA Computer Memory Card Industry Association) bus is found in laptop and notebook computers, but this standard from
occasionally is found in desktop machines. These drives are small in size and capacity. They measure about 1.8 inches across, and the capacities are 60 and 80 MB. These plug-in drives, mounted on add-on PC cards, can be removed and installed while your computer is running. Some U.S. government offices use this method of storage so that the drives can be removed and locked up for security purposes. Several companies offer tiny hard drives from 500 MB to more than 2 GB in size. The drives are so small they offer an easy and safe way to secure confidential data and back it up. Look for the greatest advancements in hard drive storage capacity in this type of
hard drive. While SyQuest is still fresh in your mind, consider their parallel port drives. They borrow the computer's parallel printer port or supply an additional connector. The primary use I have seen for this type of hard drive is for backup, but you can use it to secure sensitive data also. If you share data
with another computer site, this is a good way to do it. Several other companies use this type of interface. (magneto-optical) hard drives were designed to resist the tendency of hard drives
Even the best magnetic hard drives will not hold data stored on them magnetically longer than a few years. MO to lose data.
drives store data
by using a
laser to preheat a
small section of the disk immediately prior to data storage. This is performed on a material
with a high resistance to being demagnetized. The high heat produced by the laser reduces
250 MB. Unless you never back up your computer you will not need this level of protection for your data.
drives are offshoots of this basic technology, but use laser beams at high frequency to store data on an optically sensitive medium. Typical CDROM capacities are 650 MB, and typical DVDcapacities for single layer are 4 GB. The write once, read many times (WORM) drive is an optical storage device
similar to a
stores data in the
hard drives, with concentric circles of sectors and tracks. The CD-ROM recorder stores data in a single winding track from the center of the
to the outside.
There are no standards for drives that all manufacturers follow. The size of this system varies from a standard 5.25-inch bay in your computer up to 12-inch desktop models.
Floppy Disk Drives Your basic resource for installing computer software and transferring data to and from your computer will probably be your floppy drive system.
Floppy drives come in several sizes. The most popular physical size is the 3.5-inch, which will fit in either a 5.25-inch standard bay or the smaller half-height bay in your case. The older and less popular size is the 5.25-inch. Another common drive is the combination drive, which consists of a 5.25inch and 3.5-inch both driven by the same drive motor. By the time you read this, it might be impossible to find a 5.25-inch drive or the corresponding media. Instead of a hard drive, the first personal computers had two drive bays that housed one
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12-inch floppy disk each. The boot drive was the upper floppy disk, and the bottom disk was the working disk. The only disk I could modify data on was the working disk. The
was 150 300 KB. Floppy drives have advanced significantly. The first small 5.25-inch drives were singlesided and could only store 140 KB on each disk. The current 5.25-inch drives support media densities of 360 KB and 1.2 MB. The 3.5-inch disk drives support 720 KB and 1.44 MB. There is a 2.88 MB version available, but most people prefer the less expensive 1.44 MB standard. Since the specifics of data storage on a floppy drive represent a book in itself, let's greatly simplify description of the process as we did in the hard drive section. The recording medium of a floppy drive is different than a hard drive. It is made up of a thin, oxide-coated polyethylene film, hence the name floppy or flexible disk. The 5.25-inch floppies are housed in a flexible case, while the 3.5-inch floppies have a hard plastic case. Unlike most hard drives, the floppy disk medium is removable. The two read-write heads remain in the floppy drive unit mounted in the computer. The disk surface is written to by magnetizing a small portion of the surface by generating a magnetic pulse in one of the write heads of the disk drive. When the disk is read, that spot causes a magnetic flux to occur in the read head, producing a small electrical signal. This signal is added to other bits and decoded to reassemble the data you stored on the disk. This process occurs thousands of times per storage capacity of these floppy disks
second during data storage and recovery. How does the computer know where the data is stored on the disk? A floppy disk must be formatted. Formatting magnetically divides the disk surface into concentric circular tracks, of which each is divided again into sectors. In a 1.2-MB double-sided high-density floppy drive, there are 80 tracks per side. It is the same for 1.44-MB 3.5-inch disks. Each track on the 1.2-MB disk is divided into 15 sectors, while each track is 18 sectors for the 1.44-MB disck. Each one of these sectors constitutes an allocation unit. An allocation unit is a spot allocated on the disk for data to be stored. Only single files or parts of a single file can be stored in an allocation unit.
between the 1.2-MB and 1.44-MB disks
# Tracks Per Side
40 80 80 80 80
# Sectors Per Track
disk. This track
is created on track 0 of the where the index for the disk
written to, a record of the task is placed in the FAT. This is how the computer knows where data is stored on the floppy disk surface. The 5.25-inch floppy drive, though obsolete by current standards, is still available. The floppy disk media comes in 360 KB and 1.2 MB. The 1.2-MB disks are labeled doubleis
sided high density. The 3.5-inch floppy drive
standard. The media available for it consists of 720-KB double-sided double-density and 1.44-
double-sided high-density floppy diskettes, which are readily available and inexpensive.
The 2.88-MB 3.5-inch extended-density drive has been out for several years, but hasn't
Used by System
368640 1228800 737280 1474560 2949120
6144 14898 12800 16896 33792
362496 1213952 724480 1457664 2915328
224 224 224 240
reason for the difference in capacity. During
FLOPPY DISK CAPACITIES Disk
A 64-bit Sound
SHOPPING FOR A COMPUTER
caught on. Affordable CD-ROM equipment, with 600+ MB capacity, minimized the importance of the 2.88 MB floppy for program installation. The ED drive is a good concept, but may have been introduced too late. The added expense of a special 1 MB controller may also have its
lack of popularity.
In the chart Floppy Disk Capacities, note that the is
of root directories
for the 1.2-MB, the 720-KB,
the 1.44-MB disks. file
limitation is in the
allocation table. To put
a floppy disk,
Blaster Live! sound card with 3-D sound.
you must create subdirectories
presentations, the multimedia sound card accessory was created. Sound cards often come as part of a multimedia kit, which normally packages a sound card, a CD-ROM, software, and speakers. They usually can be purchased separately for less money. Figure 35 shows a Sound Blaster compatible 64-bit sound card with wave table and 3-D audio interface. The Sound Blaster product line is the de-facto standard in sound card
performance and standardization. The Yamaha family of sound cards is a good alternative because of the extensive MIDI (musical instrument
and the higher power output they provide. Yamaha-manufactured cards also support Sound Blaster compatible modes. Most sound cards can record high quality
To enhance the computing experience and add complex audio to projects, games, and
sound from a variety of sources. These include a compact disk, remote stereo, video camera,
beneath the root directories. on subdirectories is in Chapter
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MIDI device connected to your computer. The MIDI built into most sound
cards allows you to capture sound bits from keyboards, synthesizers, and a wide variety of input devices.
synthesis built into the sound card allows you to accurately reproduce up to 128
MIDI sounds and more than 45 percussion instruments. Some have actual samples of instrument sounds built in and use a wave table for
Mixer capabilities are a useful addition to sound cards. An audio mixer allows you to control sound levels, bass, and treble in program material you wish to record. A microphone jack is a normal addition to most sound cards, and so is
voice recognition software.
Voice recognition software allows you to operate your computer by talking to it after creating a voice-to-text table using samples of
your voice reading certain words. After the computer stores your voice, it can recognize commands you dictate through the microphone attached to your sound card. The sound card is a digital-to-analog interface that converts digitally stored information to analog sounds that speakers play. Many sound cards double as an interface for a CD-ROM. If the interface is SCSI, the sound card will also control up to six other devices. The
and headphones can
interaction between a CD-ROM and a sound card is digital. The only time the sound card provides analog output is when you are playing something through the speakers or headphones. The technique sound cards use to record music and voice onto your hard drive is called digital sampling. The analog sound is broken into small fragments, and only a portion of
minute of sound. This is why the average compact disk, with over 650 MB of storage capability, can only store about 1 hour of music, but
recording high fidelity sound, it is necessary to go well beyond the limits of ordinary hearing. The reason is that mixing sounds outside the range we can hear makes many audible sounds. We would notice if sound cards limited sample rates to the 20 kHz limit of normal hearing; in fact, you must sample at more that twice the normal hearing range upper limit of 20 kHz to obtain good quality reproduction. A 44.1 kHz digital sample produces a 22 kHz analog signal when converted.
greatest advantage provided by the
processing of your sound card is the absence of noise; there is no tape hiss or static. Digital processing normally gives a signal-to-noise ratio of -90 dB. At this level, digital
by keeping most sound-related operations on the sound card. With no bus traffic to and from the helps reduce any added
processor for sound-related functions, there less possibility for
CPU slowdown when running
complex sound and graphics operations. The obvious advantage the DSP offers speed, since the processor
not interrupted to
handle sound processing. The DSP also handles the music synthesis and specialized digital effects required by many high-end programs. Assembling the many notes for a variety of instruments would be an imposing task for the processor otherwise.
The minimum sound card you should purchase is a 32-bit sound card with a DSP function. Anything else
already obsolete, and
stored. If the fragments are
will not handle future requirements. Expect to
small enough, and the space between the stored fragments is small enough, the sound can be reliably reproduced. Most sound cards are at least 32-bit cards. A 32-bit card can break an analog wave into 65,536 (or 64K) fragments. If you use a 44 kHz sample rate to store stereo music, you will need more than 10 MB of disk space to store 1
spend around $12 to $15 for basic sound support, and up to $40 for 3-D full-featured wave table 64-bit live sound and 64 MIDI voices.
The Modem modem modulates
digital the A information a computer provides into analog signals the phone system understands. When
the analog signal
SHOPPING FOR A COMPUTER
received on the other end communication link, the receiving is
the signal to digital information the computer understands. The phone line, being an analog system, is full of noise. This noise affects the quality of transmission to and from the modem. Most modems have error correction functions built in to clean up poor quality communications, and can adjust the communication speed on both ends to optimize response quality. Baud rate is a measure of the communication speed between modems. Baud rates of 300 means the computers are talking at about 27 characters per second. (To get this
number, add the 8 to
define a character
start bit, 1 stop bit,
and the next
Then divide 300 by
the total (11) to get about 27 characters per second.) Two modems, when communicating, must operate at the same baud rate and use the
same communication protocol. Fortunately, faster modems are downward compatible with slower ones. Modem speeds can vary from 300 baud to over 56K baud. A 28. 8K baud modem transmits at approximately 2,800 characters per second. One protocol of choice is Zmodem batch, which sends data as a continuous stream. Error checking codes are inserted at certain intervals. If
portion of data
detected, the affected
Other protocols include Kermit,
and Ymodem. These three send
a block of and attached code data with error-checking await a positive response from the recipient block. next the before sending
batch is a bi-directional protocol, error detection and correction is an ongoing process. ITU recommended Let's discuss This... is... very... slow. Since
International standards. The Telecommunications Union, previously called the Comite Consultatif Internal de Telegraphique et Telephone (CCITT), was established to standardize worldwide telecommunications. The committee makes recommendations only, and companies can accept or ignore these suggestions.
All suggestions for standardization in small
computers have a or non-switched
(Most systems are switched.) All revisions or alternate suggestions have either bis (for second) or ter (for third) following the standard type. An example is V.32bis. A V.32bis modem can communicate at 14. 4K baud, but a V.32 modem can only run at 4,800 or 9,600 bps. The V.32bis standard is a modulation method. The V.34 standard is for the 28.8 K baud modems. The V.42bis standard is a method of combined error
checking and compression. Two V.42bis modems can communicate at speeds up to 57.6
modems must use communications software to operate. When you purchase a All
modem, it normally comes with a strippeddown version of a popular communications package. You may choose to purchase a high performance software package to optimize use of your modem. Some communications packages worth note are Qmodem by Mustang Software, Procomm Plus by DataStorm, and WinComm Pro by Delrina. There are also numerous shareware packages available, such as Lcom, and BBS software such as Wildcat and WWIV. Hayes compatibility is an important data requirement for modems. Hayes set the standard and all other manufacturers have established products that adhere to these standards. There are two types of modems, internal
and external, each with
advantages and disadvantages. Both have a speaker to allow you to hear busy signals or ringing. External modems have a switch to turn them off. If you are security conscious, it makes sense to prevent access to your computer by turning your modem off when not in use. External modems show activity with status LEDs on their front panel so you always know what's going on. The disadvantages of external units are higher cost and the requirement for an external COM port. its
Internal modems are the most popular. They are their own communications port when installed and do not require additional
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
desk space. They do not have status indicators and cannot be switched off, however. They also eat up one of the valuable add-on card slots in your computer. Fax capability is normally included on
most modems available today. Any document you create can be faxed to a recipient with a fax
or conventional fax machine.
Since the middle 1990s, a
has become a necessity. The device that was once a nice option has become a key requirement on nearly everyone's computer. The CD-ROM provides numerous benefits for home computer users, and the host of software available
endless. Figure 3-6 depicts a
ROM drive. The uses
The CD-ROM has recently become the defacto standard convenient medium for software installation, including operating systems, legal programs, medical software, pharmaceutical reference books, and desktop publishing software. The uses for this medium
be endless. Sony and Phillips Corporations first marketed the CD-ROM in the 1980s. Its to
use was playing recorded music
without the analog noise common in existing systems. Of course, home units could only play music; the recording system cost at that time was prohibitive. A CD-ROM disk is made by burning microscopic depressions in ihe disk material with a miniature laser in response to program data digital logic levels. This creates a pattern
for business are
book focuses on the home user. Since the price of CD-ROM games and entertainment packages has dropped
is read from the disk by another type of laser. When the read laser is focused on the programmed portion of the disk, the pits do not reflect back as much light
purchase computers with
as the lands, allowing the read laser to easily
significant, but this
CD-ROMs already installed. Home entertainment is one of the principal targets for CD-ROM software developers. Games, encyclopedias, music, art, and movies are transformed to CD-ROM software. Educational material is quickly and easily learned from a CDROM, and kids are quick to acquire the skills necessary to use the system. Several hundred books, or three hours of compressed video, can be stored on a single CD-ROM. sensory experience of a CD-ROM system seems to make learning easier. With more avenues to the brain, topics can be easily assimilated and retained. School topics become multimedia experiences and learning
ones and zeroes represented by the pits and lands are decoded, and the data is recovered. Data on a laser disk is encoded in one large spiral track winding outward from the disk's center. This single track is divided into about 270,000 sectors, if the laser that programmed the disk is a low-frequency red laser. More than five times that many sectors are available with a green laser, but this technology is not yet commonplace, except in DVD recorders. Each sector in both types is 2,048 bytes. The sectors are numbered in .001 second increments, which allows the data to
be easily located. The rotational speed of a laser disk constantly changes with respect to distance center. This CLV (constant linear method allows uniform data
from the disk velocity)
and is similar recording method used in some
acquisition with respect to time,
zone bit hard drives. Like a hard disk, the speed at which a laser disk can transfer data to memory is far slower than direct memory access. The first CD-ROM drives had a data transfer speed less to the
Figure 3-6. The
than 100 sectors per second. bytes, or 2 KB,
SHOPPING FOR A COMPUTER
A sector is CD-ROMs
times 100 sectors, or 200 KB (200 thousand bytes) of data per second. By comparison, current IDE hard drives can transfer between 4 MB (4 million bytes) and transfer 2
MB of data in the
This category of computer accessory has
improved substantially. Transfer rates for CDROM drives have been the primary performance increase. To put transfer rates in perspective, an old drive was rated about 150 KB per second. A good 4X drive will transfer 600 KB per second. A 6X CD-ROM increases this number to about 900 KB per second. Access time, the length of time the drive takes to find any sector, is the other measurement of CD-ROM performance. An old drive took 600 milliseconds, or ms, to locate data, and a 6X drive only takes about 100 ms to perform the same operation. Today's drives are 8-10 times faster than a 6X CD-ROM drive was.
faster drives are constantly being
designed. Stay at least one speed behind the
That $100 60X CDdrive will cost only $50 when the 72X
to get the best deals.
The CD-ROM recording system has become inexpensive enough for home use,
recorders going for less than $100. records use the recorder to archive duplicates of the data. With 650 (or up to 4 GB of storage capability using compression) you could archive the complete records of a large
Many companies have their paper scanned and put on CD-ROM, then
on a few
recorders are becoming popular
backup systems and for copying systems from one computer to another. Remember that if you purchase software, you normally agree to install the software on only one machine. If as
you use a
recorder to illegally copy
you can get
or transfer software,
trouble for copyright infringement.
Remember cache memory? A good CD-
drive has a built-in cache buffer.
transferred from the
the computer, it is temporarily loaded into cache on the drive. The data transfer to the computer can occur much more quickly and
smoothly this way. Most inexpensive CD-ROM drives have a 256-KB buffer, but a good drive will have 2 MB. Several companies offer CD-ROM caching software. These programs set aside memory in your computer to use as a temporary storage cache for use while running programs on CDROM. The memory they set aside can be either on your hard disk or on your motherboard. Either way, the access time of the cache memory will be much faster than the CD-ROM access time, so your program will run faster. There are other differences in CD-ROM drives. The most significant is the internal or
external drive will cost more, but performance should be similar. Stay away from CD-ROM drives with proprietary interfaces, and pick a good IDE or SCSI drive external option.
Backup Systems The move
hard drives in computers today necessitates a backup system with large capacity. A good tape backup to
system will save you hours of frustration and yards of gray hair. Tape backups are inexpensive, too.
You can purchase a tape backup system that supports 800 MB of storage on each tape for around $70. A good external drive that puts up to 5 GB on each tape is under $140. The tapes are also constantly coming down in price. A five pack sold recently for about the one year ago. For about $10 you can get 800 MB tapes, and the 5 GB Travan cartridges run $20. Tape backup systems operate between 15 MB and 25 MB per minute, depending on the hardware. Figure 3-7 shows three backup
price of a single tape
options currently available.
The best part of a backup system is the Most tape drives come with DOS and Windows 9X backup software, which ease of use.
automatically configures the tape system for use. In the event of a massive hard-drive
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
with a larger monitor, get it now. They normally go down in price slowly, unlike other computer accessories.
necessary to mention the monitorsizing scheme. When you buy a 14-inch monitor, you can only use a portion of the 14 inches; there is a border of up to one inch all the way around the monitor screen. This border masks a portion of the monitor deemed unusable due to screen curvature. Even a good 15-inch flat screen monitor has only 13.5 inches of diagonal viewing area. Size is the most important feature. Get the monitor most comfortable to view, considering your software requirements. If you plan to do any CAD or schematic work, do not get a monitor smaller than 19 inches. Desktop publishing or heavy 3-D gaming requires at It is
Figure 3-7: Several systems are available to back
your tape backup system will save you
hours of stressful data recovery. Consider the three hours required to restore a system crash from backup. If you had to rebuild 100 GB of installed software without a backup system, it might take you several days, if you could accomplish it at all. A backup system is only good if you use it. Do a full system backup as soon as you install the backup drive. Perform incremental backups weekly if you use the computer daily. The three backup systems shown in Figure 3-7 are, from left to right, a Hewlett-Packard (HP) 5 GB tape backup system, an IOMEGA 20 GB hard drive-based backup system that runs from a USB port, and a 100 MB IOMEGA zip drive. (The zip drive is best used to back up daily-used data that must be transferred between computers. As a full system backup, it is useless due to small capacity per disk. But it is an excellent method to transfer, for example,
book to my publisher. Since the backup system is easy to use, take advantage of it. You will be ecstatic the first time you have to recover data, or must rid the text of this
of a computer reformatting your hard drive.
a 17-inch monitor.
inch monitors are simply inadequate.
What To Watch Out For Bench
Check the outside corners for fuzzy display areas or distortion. Ensure that you can set brightness and contrast controls for comfortable viewing without overdriving the screen. (Overdriving is evident as poor focus and excessive glare, and will prematurely age the monitor.) Reflected glare from the monitor face can also retailer before purchase.
be a problem, though many monitors come with an anti-glare screen. Get a green monitor if possible. A green monitor has circuitry that makes it sleep if left unattended for a period of time. A sleeping monitor consumes very little energy. Since an average monitor can consume 150 - 200 watts of energy, a green monitor can save you money. The EPA Energy Star seal is on each green monitor, identifying it as an energyconserving computer accessory. Be sure to get a good quality .28-dot pitch or better SVGA monitor. Many vendors will try to get rid of their obsolete .39 dot pitch
The Monitor By now, you know how important a good monitor is. Your monitor will probably outlive everything else in your system, so get
what you want.
will be happier
monitors, so don't be the next victim. You will notice the difference.
time in front of your monitor, consider an LCD monitor. They are If
you spend a
SHOPPING FOR A COMPUTER
you have been
getting headaches during or after a long day in front of the computer, the flicker and radiation
time in front of my new I switched over, the
monitor, and since
the building forever.
The Mouse In the beginning of personal computing, a
mouse was a keyboard was
the primary input device.
the advent of sophisticated, graphics-intensive
programs, the mouse has replaced the keyboard as the primary input device. The advent of Windows and Windowsbased programs occurred primarily because of the Macintosh success story. If you give someone an easy-to-use computer without a
to learn, they will learn
quickly and enjoy using it. A clean graphic user interface with icons, a mouse, and very
memorization makes for a comfortable computing environment. When choosing a mouse, consider the fact that a $10 mouse will do most of the things a $100 mouse will. If you have no particular reason to choose one mouse over another, consider saving money and purchasing an inexpensive Microsoft-compatible mouse little
instead of the high-priced spread. If
you have applications
that require a high-
resolution mouse, such as engineering, drafting,
or design, you will have to purchase a
expensive alternative. Figure 3-8
from your monitor might be contributing factors.
You might spend
a stationary trackball.
few bucks more and buy A primary reason is you
might have no desk space for a conventional mouse and pad. The other reason is the increased resolution obtained. A trackball is nothing more than an upside-down mouse. The ball is rotated with the thumb and the rest of
mouse just lies there on the table. The mouse plugs into a serial port on your computer. As you move the mouse, the ball moves two or more wheels. The wheels have holes or indentations, which interrupt a light the
path to photosensitive diodes or transistors. This creates a data stream, which enters the computer through the serial port. Using the buttons causes additional data bits to enter the data path into the computer. The I/O card or built in function decodes the data stream to know exactly what the mouse pointer is pointing at when you make a selection.
like all accessories,
configured in software to be useful. Windows 9X, Windows 2K, Windows XP, and several other operating systems have embedded PnP software functions to detect and configure
your mouse. Other software requires you install a driver for the mouse, and one normally comes with it for that purpose.
drivers are available for
on the Web
purchasing a mouse, be certain to get a high-resolution mouse if you will be doing high-level design work. If you just want a pointer and don't need the resolution,
even the do not buy
off inexpensively. Since
inexpensive type lasts a long time, a high-end one if you do not need it.
The Keyboard The keyboard is the most abused part of your computer. You will bang on it when things don't work, spill your drink of choice into
USB mouse, and
types of mice.
however, give you the least trouble of any part of your computer. Unlike the typewriter, the computer
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
keyboard has no real standardization. You can blame the independent manufacturers for this. Everyone has his own idea of which keys
should be placed where, and
function keys are necessary.
Newer keyboards are almost microcomputers themselves, with a ROM-based operating system and processor installed on their main boards. They store keystrokes and
types. Remember this point, however: printers typically outlast most of your computer accessories, so get one you can live with a long time. The first color printers were dot-matrix printers with a color kit, which consisted of a ribbon with three-color bands and a black band. Special software was necessary to drive the print head up and down the ribbon to
generate unique codes for each key pressed. They even know when you want to repeat a
produce color images.
Many specialized keyboards exist, and you may go crazy trying them out, but try you
must. This keypad will be in front of you for a long time. Purchase your keyboard only after trying out many different types. Like the mouse, you can spend $100 or more on a keyboard, or as little as $9. Pick a keyboard you will be happy with many years, since they last a very long time.
of current dot-matrix
is cost. The lower initial cost is added lower cost per page of printed material. A good dot-matrix printer can be purchased for around $40 with the color ribbon and software. Dot-matrix printers come in narrow and wide styles. The wide style can handle the
llxl4-inch paper commonly used to print
with text and photos for
ledgers and spreadsheets. Most dot-matrix printers use fanfold continuous feed paper. Disadvantages of this type of printer include lower print quality than other types of printers and extremely slow color printing. The noise from a dot matrix printer is often very uncomfortable. They have a very small print buffer and are generally without scaleable fonts. (Scaleable fonts are text styles that can be made larger or smaller by newer printers.) Ink-jet printers normally cost from $90 to
a usable single-pass color in the $50 - $300 range, and it
$600, and are a quantum leap from the dotmatrix printer. HP invented the ink-jet printer, and holds a vast portion of the current market
Now for the fun stuff: Have you ever looked at a picture and thought you would like to see it every time you turned on your computer? All you have to do is scan the picture into your computer. Or maybe you'd like to
friends or clients.
The price of
scanner is makes an economical and enjoyable addition to your system. When you look for a scanner, insist on one
TWAIN TWAIN-compatible. is that (technology without an interesting name) is an application programming interface, or API specification, that several large corporations jointly developed. This helped standardize the device drivers for the scanners, so you will not have configuration headaches using your scanner in different programming environments. One that works from a USB port is the best choice.
color ink-jet printer
about $200 with the color
competitor, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), often advertises their color ink jet printer for about $180 and includes a $40 mail-in rebate.
Several ink jet printer manufacturers include a fax machine in their printers. They can be used as a copier or printer. HP and Ricoh both make these machines. Laser printers do premium black and white printing. They normally have resolution of 300 to 600 dpi (dots per inch). The common
resolution for a low-cost ink-jet printer is also 300 to 600 dpi, but the laser image always
To round out the peripheral and accessory section of this book, let's look at printer
looks better. Today's laser printers are available for $150 and up.
SHOPPING FOR A COMPUTER
at four to 50 pages per minute, are the fastest printers available for home computing. The technology behind the laser printer is a book in itself, but this
most of them: A laser printer utilizes complex optics and mirrors to write text and graphics onto a photosensitive description
assembly. The laser beam is swept across the drum, pulsing in intensity to identify light and dark areas. The laser beams onto the drum, sensitizing the dark areas, where printable material is encoded. As the drum rotates through the toner material, the sensitized areas pick up the carbon toner. Paper is pressed against the drum, picking up the toner. The paper is heated, fusing the toner to the paper. Except for the laser, this system is similar to a standard copy machine. Copy machines are just beginning to use this lowerrotating
method as well. The prices range from about $150 for a good 15 page per minute 600 dpi unit to around $2,500 for a 50+ page per minute unit with 1,200 dpi quality. They can't commonly cost
do color at an affordable price. If you wish to spend $1,000 to $10,000, you can have a Xerox, Tektronix, or
laser color printer.
10 times the cost of a good color
Laser printers can use lower quality paper but some paper will eventually clog up the printer. The high level of solid particulate easily,
laser printer because of the difference in toner
get an inexpensive dot-
you only print an
you often print
don't need laser quality resolution, get a good ink-jet printer. If you print tons of high
quality black and white
a laser printer.
have a 600 dpi laser
printer and a color ink-jet printer.
Power and Line Voltage Conditioning Nearly everyone has experienced a power blackout or brownout. These interruptions in power can be harmful or destructive to your computer. If you live where lightning strikes are commonplace, you know the amount of damage they can cause. Plan on purchasing a power strip with surge protection for your computer. Power surges, caused
line voltage fluctuation, often
strikes, power pole damage, or any sudden load on the power grid in your area can cause them. You will be adding $30 to the price of your system, but this is an inexpensive insurance
policy, considering the investment.
ink jet printer.
power supply, or UPS, is a necessary purchase if you live in an electrically uninterruptible
computer plugged into a UPS largely ignores blackouts, brownouts, and challenged area.
of the laser
source that converts direct current voltage from
a set of internal batteries into 60-cycle 120 VAC.
use cheap paper. Laser printers format data before printing, is a necessity. so a print buffer of 4 to 16 Most laser printers have built in scaleable
The UPS is plugged into the wall socket, and the computer draws power through the UPS from the wall socket. If power is interrupted for any reason, the UPS starts up immediately and supplies power to anything plugged into it
eventually impairs the workings printer, so clean the
paper path often
two options add
flexibility in printing.
without any interruption in service.
to the printing speed. -
typical laser printer will get 2,000 4,000 pages or more from a toner cartridge. Most ink-jet printers can only print about 300
600 pages per ink cartridge. The average price for a laser toner cartridge is between $40 and $100, while color ink jet cartridges cost $20 - $40. Expect to spend more time maintaining an ink-jet printer than the average -
choosing a power-conditioning you assess your needs
device, be certain that
honestly. Trying to save a cost
have looked at truth in advertising in the computer store, studied types of systems, and examined in reasonable detail the components of a computer system. We have
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
reviewed peripherals and accessories. With the information presented up to now, you can make intelligent choices regarding the specific components you want in your system. When you decide on your components, you will have created an integrated working computer model. This model will serve as your dream machine for comparison with store-bought systems.
Put together on paper the system you Compare your dream system to actual hardware on sale at a retail vendor. Try out a system that closely matches your model, and be certain your plan has omitted nothing important. When you finish this exercise, you have removed all doubt that you will be satisfied with your system. desire.
Computer and System PRICES OF COMPUTER COMPONENTS RELATIVE
TO THE WHOLE COMPUTER Component
Motherboard, Pentium 4 Case, mid-tower
Video card, GeForce Pro 32
Floppy disk, 1.44 MB, 2 each
Mouse, three-button Monitor, 19 inch, .26 dpi,
*Your prices will find at this
will be lower, but this
representative of the ratios
comparable pre-built system costs $2,299, but it
yourself and save money!
prices above are for a typical Pentium
system with 256 MB of video card with 32 MB of VRAM. hard drive and two 3.5-inch floppy drives are included. The rest of this chapter will show you how to select 59
and a good quality AGP A Western Digital 80 GB
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
components for your computer. You will be shown how to make your shopping list and given the information to allow you to intelligently select the accessories you need. When you finish this chapter, you will have a list of the components to build exactly the computer you want. One necessary consideration is your software requirement. After selecting your software, be certain that the computer you are building will support the software you plan to use. Failing to do so is a common mistake that people who buy packaged systems often make. The system looks good enough but unless the buyer has done his homework, he goes home the
with a system that does not fit his needs. Keep your current and future software
requirements in mind as you select your components and you will not be disappointed or unpleasantly surprised.
MAKING YOUR SHOPPING
The motherboards readily available today are, from slowest to fastest, the Celeron PCI, the AMD Duron PCI, the Pentium 3 and 4, and the AMD Athalon XP. Pricing is approximate, but here are some guidelines. Expect to procure an upgradable Pentium 3/Celeron motherboard for $70 to $100. It has onboard EIDE I/O and onboard sound card support.
Pentium 4 PCI motherboard with pipeline burst cache and onboard EIDE I/O will run you about $105 without the processor but remember, it supports faster RDRAM. Now, hold onto your pocketbook. The Intel motherboard that supports the Pentium 4, 2 GHz microprocessor runs about $185 without the processor, which is about $400. This motherboard has full support for RDRAM, sound, onboard network card, and a modem riser card. These prices will generally fall with time and serve as references only. The hottest processors on the market today are Intel's Pentium 4 and Athalon models. The CPU assembly looks more like an add-on card than a CPU, and the motherboard faster
have never seen any book or periodical you information on exactly what to buy to make a computer; other books discuss some features of a few necessary components and leave the rest as guesswork. This book is the exception. My objective in this chapter is to eliminate any doubt in your mind that you are buying exactly what you want and need. If I
you follow my instructions, you will wind up with the best possible computer for your requirements and have more money in your pocket than you expected. As detailed in Chapter 1, the minimum components required to build a computer are the case, a motherboard, the microprocessor, the RAM, a video card, either onboard IDE I/O or an IDE I/O card, a hard disk, a floppy disk, a keyboard, a mouse, and a monitor.
The Motherboard with the motherboard. The Start motherboard determines the required characteristics of the rest of the
shows an Athalon motherboard PCI bus. The PCI slots are the short
Figure 4-1 with the
slots next to the
connector in the middle.
is unique, costing about $150. The processors range in price from $150 to $500, at frequencies from 1 GHz to beyond 2 GHz. Someone asked me about quality and mechanical configuration issues recently, so they will be addressed now. Quality between different manufacturers is very similar. The primary reason is component vendors have no
sense of humor when it comes to returned items, and they will not tolerate any manufacturer who does not conform to their
The quality issue is resolved before the customer gets involved. It is necessary, when doing large volumes of business, to start and maintain a good quality-control system. Motherboards determine the ultimate use and performance of your computer. Choose the motherboard that supports your processor of choice and select the fastest RAM available in the configuration you choose. Ensure the standards.
motherboard supports the fastest RAM for the processor in question. Know and understand that RDRAM for the Pentium 4 processors and for the Athalon-based processors DDR
DESIGNING YOUR COMPUTER AND SYSTEM
suitable for adding extra goodies
power supply, more connectors, a and more room for tape drives, CDROMs, extra hard drives, and additional a larger
Mini-towers are generally the best buy, and around $20 to $25 will buy a good one. If you do not plan on the combination of a DVDROM, two floppy drives, an internal tape drive, and a CD-ROM, a mini tower will suffice. Figure 4-2 shows a mini-tower case. This case is suitable for the majority of
Figure 4-1. Athalon motherboard for the 1.4GHz Processor and DDR
Note that if you machine that might be a little steep,
are the current state of the
are not building an extremely fast
RAM particularly in the RDRAM category. these choices in
example of a good, reliable, fast Athalon-based motherboard with support for DDR RAM. It includes sockets for extended modem capability with voice, and a 4X AGP slot, the premium setup for extremely fast graphics and
This should be enough information to pick a motherboard to fit your needs and budget. different Configuration between
motherboards and of tightly controlled by the
standards to which each component has adhere. Without going into extensive detail, it
suffice to say that the
make an IBM-compatible PC are, for the most part, completely interchangeable used
within the families.
The Case Get the case that suits your future needs. If you want a desktop case, you are somewhat limited in what can be put inside. Remember also that the primary reason for moving from the desktop case is your health. A monitor placed on a desktop case is too high to view without neck and back strain. The medium-tower case is a good buy and
computers, but the larger medium tower allows an additional bay for an internal tape drive. There are so many types and styles of cases that it would take hours to describe them all. Since it is one of the most visible parts of your computer, make your choice carefully. The case will generally outlive upgradable items such as the motherboard and all internal components, so get a case you are comfortable with, one that will serve your current and future requirements. When you evaluate your need for a computer case, consider future expansion. Though most people select a mini-tower case
and most purchased computers come with one, you may decide to add enough peripheral equipment to make a mini-tower useless. Add up the equipment you will be installing in your computer and are planning to purchase over the next several months before you firm up a decision on your case requirements. For example, if you decide to install two hard drives, a tape backup system, a CD-ROM drive, and two floppy drives, you have one more device than you have drive bays. A medium tower is your most viable choice with these peripherals. Most vendors have a good selection of cases. Ask for the advantages and disadvantages of each case you are interested in before you make your decision to buy. Buy enough case for your predicted future requirements and be certain to look at a sample case to confirm it will actually suit your needs before making the purchase. The mini-tower and full tower cases have
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
developed around a 16-bit bus instead of the standard 64-bit bus. It runs at only 800 MHz, but with a 16-bit bus that is equivalent to the 200 MHz speed of DDR RAM. DDR RAM uses a 64-bit bus.
The equivalent data
rates are the
same (800 divided by 4 is equal to 200 MHz). You need 64 MB of RAM to run most 32bit applications, including Windows 9X and Windows NT, with any degree of speed. You need at least 24 additional megabytes of RAM to run most office and desktop suites, and 32 MB is better. That means it is a good idea to plan on at least 128 MB of RAM to allow Windows 98, 2000, NT, or XP to properly perform multitasking, for which all of these operating systems were designed. The most
128 MB. Soon, due to 32-bit applications, the most common size will be 256 MB. Get 256 now and you will be glad you did. Plan on buying SDRAM if you are making capacity today
has an additional 5.25-inch bay. The mini tower will support two hard drives, 3.5-inch drives and 5.25-inch drives. The
adds the third 5.25-inch bay.
RAM The type
motherboard you purchase will determine the RAM you buy. You may have banks for 72-pin SIMM only, 72-pin SIMM and 168-pin DIMM, or 168-pin DIMM only. DIMM are primarily utilized on Pentium Celeron and Athalon Duron motherboards
The fastest computers use DDR RAM or Rambus-manufactured DRAM. The AMD processors lean toward DDR RAM, and Pentium 4 utilizes the RDRAM. Both are extremely
utilizes a "dual
increased performance, which allows data to be clocked both on the rising and falling edge of a clock pulse. (The clock pulses are nothing but a way for the microprocessor to tell the RAM when to move data.) This symbol |_| represents a falling clock edge followed by a rising clock edge. Normal RAM would pass one set of data, while DDR RAM would pass two sets of data, making it twice as fast per (
utilizes a different architecture,
Duron or Intel Celeron machine. Plan on expensive RDRAM for a Pentium 4, an
and cost-effective DDR RAM for use with an Athalon or Athalon XP-based computer. You now have the case, motherboard, CPU, and RAM specified for your system. The next thing to look at is the video adapter card.
Video Adapter Remember, the video adapter
an addon card that converts digital information from your computer into signals used to display information on your monitor. The range in video performance for a computer is
You can purchase a basic PCI video card for as little as $22 - $35. This card will have 32 MB of video RAM, but no bells and whistles. The next step up is a 2X AGP video card with 32 or 64 MB of RAM. These cards will be priced in the $44 - $75 dollar range.
The next jump card with
for a generic
outputs and significant 3-D and
virtual reality support. Plan
on releasing up
not the best choice
unless you have
programs like AutoCad or the games installed.
DESIGNING YOUR COMPUTER AND SYSTEM
Video Cards Diamond Fire G1 1000
introducing accelerated graphics port (AGP) capability. Now nearly every motherboard has a 2X or 4X AGP port and all video card manufacturers offer several products to fit this
enhanced IO bus. There are dozens of game video adapters available. Beware of a video adapter that supports only one or two 3-D games— it will be expensive and perhaps not compatible with forthcoming software packages. The average Duron or Celeron user should purchase a 2X AGP video card with 32 MB of
you are building the fastest machine in either the Pentium 4 or Athalon category, go ahead and spill your wallet for a 4X AGP video card with 64 MB of RAM. To do otherwise will definitely show up in performance. Why spend more money for a better video adapter? The reasons vary, but support for graphics-intensive programs is the primary reason. The speed of an AGP video adapter is significant in high-end 3-D applications like solids modeling and CAD programs. The other primary user of high-end graphics adapters is the extreme game player. The new 32- and 64-bit video games use MPEG video compression to store embedded video clips in computer games. Only the best video adapters can display the video clips smoothly. If your requirements fit in these categories, consider a high-end If
video adapter a necessity.
The Hard Disk Hard disks come in all shapes and sizes, in capacities from 10 GB to more than 180 GB in IDE format, and well beyond 200 GB in
What do you need and why?
intended applications are considerable, your hard-disk capacity requirements will match. Consider the software you will be installing and get a hard disk with a minimum capacity
much. Access times are similar for most hard
of twice or three times that
disks today, so this factor
not significant in
will find the prices are pretty
The most popular hard drives today are high-capacity IDE hard drives. Conner, Maxtor, Quantum, Seagate, and Western Digital all make hard drives in excess of 100 GB. Conner, Maxtor, and Western Digital make drives in the 180-GB range and beyond. Both Conner and Seagate make large capacity hard drives in SCSI format. If you are planning on installing a SCSI adapter for any reason, consider one of these.
What If I
a budget computer,
IDE hard drive, 40-GB IDE hard drives
such as the 20-
were making a fast Pentium or clone machine I would double up a pair of Western Digital 100-GB hard drives for about $200 to $220 each. There are many variations in size and price between these two extremes, and also 200-GB hard disks and beyond. Just look at everything available available for about $70. If
before you decide, and remember that the newest hard disks are overpriced in comparison with drives a few months older.
Floppy Drives Most people will buy only one 3.5-inch floppy drive for a first time computer. The
should even consider a 5.25inch floppy drive are owners of older computer with data or software on 5.25-inch disks. Some people, like myself, have to duplicate data disks often for clients, and a pair of 3.5-inch floppies makes this easy. (The only people
DOS Diskcopy program identical drives
and makes exact duplicates
a disk in one pass.)
Important things to consider when buying a floppy drive are price and adaptability. Though floppy drives once cost hundreds of dollars, today's prices for floppy drives range from $10 to $15. Never pay more than $15 for a Sony or Teac 3.5 inch 1.44 MB floppy drive. For adaptability, the floppy drive should include a 5.25-inch mounting kit so you can install the drive in either 3.5-inch or
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
bays in your case. Since floppy drives are so similar in all other respects, including longevity and quality, these are the two primary issues to keep in mind.
CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs in a case that already has at least one DMA-66 hard drive. Figure 4-3 shows an EIDE I/O card, which supports four hard drives or CD-ROMS or DVD-ROMs, two
Keyboard and Mouse Like your pillow and mattress, your mouse and keyboard are individual and personal. Nobody touches my mouse without my
permission! Since most of the operations you perform on a computer require one of both of them, you should purchase wisely.
There are numerous designs, types, and configurations of the keyboard. Ergonomic keyboards suit the power user because they conform to the individual requirements of someone who spends hours on a computer. A casual user may be happy with a $12 keyboard conforming to the AT specification. The best place to test drive keyboards is a computer store, or even a large department store. They
have a selection of computers available with a wide variety of peripherals from which will
There are as many types of mice as keyboards, and I recommend trying several out before purchasing. Try the stationary trackball mouse as well. If you have limited desk space, a trackball is a good choice. Remember to evaluate both two-button and three-button mice. A three-button mouse allows you to program the middle button in certain applications and can save you hours
floppy drives, and I/O
functions, such as a parallel printer port, a game adapter port for a joystick or flight controller,
In current versions, this card has Ethernet capability as well. This
component speeds up
Internet data transmission, particularly through a cable modem. Obviously a motherboard with these built-in functions reduces the need for an add-on card in all but the most extensively loaded systems, but if the built-in function fails on a motherboard, provisions on the motherboard allow you to add a card like this to restore the function.
The Monitor You must try out all types of monitors before you consider a purchase in this department. The monitor you like may not work for anyone else. Everyone looks at monitors differently;
different types available.
there are so
features most computers users are concerned
with are the
size of the screen,
interlaced or non-interlaced,
if it is digital.
Pricing for mice and keyboards varies widely from store to store. I purchase
inexpensive ones for people
know they will be the first things owner replaces to suit his own
For $20 you can buy a keyboard and threebutton Microsoft-compatible mouse. You can also spend $75 for a Logitech trackball and upward of $100 for an ergonomic keyboard, if
IDE I/O The only time you will be interested in this is if you plan on installing multiple
not necessarily the
because I the new
I/O and Ethernet add-in card.
DESIGNING YOUR COMPUTER AND SYSTEM
Green monitors have an energy-saving
feature that allows you to set a timer to shut
Shamrock 17-inch non-interlaced SVGA
15-inch monitor will
them down when not in use. This is an EPA plus often ignored by computer buyers that can save you money in utility bills, particularly if you occasionally leave your
probably give you a headache, too, because the image is so small. If you use your computer more than twice a week, do yourself a favor and get at least a 17-inch monitor or a
computer unattended and turned on. Monitor prices vary by manufacturer. A 15-inch monitor should cost around $100 if it is digital, non-interlaced, and SVGA. The .28-
tried a 21-inch
week, then came back
21 -inch monitor
was ghosting on moving applications and
Most people prefer interlaced
good features in an affordable package. If you have high-definition graphics, such as Autocad drawings, multiple layer schematics, or PCB layout applications, a 19-inch or larger monitor is necessary. Most other applications run very well on a good 17-inch monitor. Disregard 15inch monitors, except in LCD format. (A 15inch LCD monitor has nearly the same viewable measurements as a 17-inch picture tube monitor. This is because the measurement scheme of a picture tube monitor includes a portion of the monitor that is not viewable because of the bezel surrounding the picture tube.) Now let's discuss non-interlaced monitors. A non-interlaced monitor writes the screen with data in one pass. An interlaced monitor, like a television, writes the even numbered lines in one pass and the odd numbered lines in the next, meaning it takes two passes to display one screen. Doing this causes a visible
on the screen, which often results in eye fatigue. Get the non-interlaced monitor. (There is no flicker on a LCD monitor due to
the technology behind the display.)
monitor can be preset
number of different display control settings, any one of which can be automatically recalled with the
a button. This
important if several people use the computer because each can customize the display to his liking. You may like different brightness, contrast, and screen sizes in different programs, and can set the monitor to display your preferences at will. Most digital monitors can be controlled by software as well.
17-inch with similar around $125. Expect to pay about $400 for a digital 21-inch monitor. Remember, most computers sold in stores come with a small 15-inch monitor; when comparing system prices, plan to replace it. A 15-inch LCD monitor will cost you around $250. These items and prices give you an idea of what it costs to build a basic computer. You have noticed it is much less than a packaged system. Now that you have prices for the basic computer, it is time to look at the add-on stuff you will include to make this system your own
a 17-inch digital non-
specifications should run
Personalizing Your Computer Most computer users have unique operational needs. These may include
adding pictures to presentations, faxing from within documents, and surfing the 'Net. The proper combination for
of hardware and software allows you, the user,
perform virtually any task from your computer. What follows now is a brief look at to
the options available.
Talking to Other Computers In a business environment where seemingly everyone in the company has a computer, local area networks (LAN) provide the link between users. A LAN can be wired or wireless, depending on the needs of the company. Most home computer users have little interest in networking unless they have more than one computer. For this user, the ability to connect computers directly by cable is supported in Windows 9X, 2K, and NT. There are also
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
third-party programs that provide more enhanced networking functionality through direct cable connection than these programs.
Most home computers communicate via modem. This requires support software. If you purchase a modem,
the software that allows
should come with all you to use it as a fax
machine, an Internet access device, and a
modem. A basic 56K internal fax/modem can
depending on the brand. The external version of 56K modems is priced between $35 and $45. An external modem, like the one in Figure to $20,
you monitor what the modem is The lights on the front panel show
on but DSL remains consistent both upstream and downstream. There is more on cable modems and DSL later in this chapter.
communication occurring. Another good thing about external modems is you can turn them off instantly. The additional cost is due to packaging and power supply requirements. For those looking for faster communication over the phone lines, the ISDN (integrated services digital network) connection is another low-cost option. The system was designed to replace standard analog phone lines with faster digital lines. Compare the 1 megabit per second transfer rate to the 33,600 bit per second rate for a good modem and you can see why it is preferable. Other advantages of ISDN are clean digital voice, fax, and even highquality video transmission. ISDN modems are priced between $100 and $300, but expect prices to fall. Installation costs about $160. The service itself is $28 to $34 monthly, not unlike standard phone service. Cable modem service, available from your cable supplier, is 10 times faster, however, and readily available. The cost ranges from $30 to $60, depending on your existing cable subscription. Unlike modem surfing, you are always logged on, so you never get a busy signal. Another method of communication is DSL. uses existing phone line twisted pair so it is not as clean as a cable modem, but in many instances it is faster. A cable modem slows down considerably with each user that signs
CD-ROM A CD-ROM drive is no longer an option; it has become a necessity for anyone who prefers easy software installation or enjoys computer multimedia entertainment. Forget dumping 10 to 30 floppy disks into your computer to load a software package. One CD holds the storage equivalent of 400 to 500 floppies. The principal use of a CD-ROM drive today is running large multimedia packages. One or two of these programs loaded onto a hard disk could fill up 1.2 GB of hard drive space completely. Most educational and
CD-ROM now. CD-ROM drives available
reference material comes on
There are even that can record in multi-speeds. They are
one of two in
DESIGNING YOUR COMPUTER AND SYSTEM
same space a normal CD-
Some people use
drive to archive large amounts of data. This a good idea, particularly
form of video clips or other memory-hungry applications, because large volumes of data— up to 650 MB— can be stored on one disk. Companies that store data for long periods of time, including hospitals and legal practices, can benefit from the durable nature of a recordable CD-ROM disk. Figure 4-5 shows an internal
made It is
drives are pretty
The 48X IDE CD-ROM is available for about $20, 52X drives are going for $30 or less, and the 16X DVD drives bring in about consistent.
$55 to $75, depending on brand name. What's in a name? Check the features. The more expensive CD-ROM drives by NEC have a large cache buffer, which allows the drive to transfer data to your computer faster. Ask around and get the CD-ROM drive that fits your budget and requirements. (The 52X, 48X, and 16X mentioned are speeds. A 4X CD-ROM is four times faster than a single speed. See Chapter 3 for a review on CD-ROM speeds and more information.)
drive is less than $100. A packaged system is a good idea for the person who does not want to customize his sound card or speakers, and is a great idea for anyone a
complicated installation. Remember, however, that you can probably save between $25 and $30 by buying these fears
systems have become commonplace in computers sold today.
Unfortunately, the clone business
computers often have compatibility problems with some programs, leading to headaches later on. These show up when new software stretches the capabilities of the clone cards.
The most affected clone card in this area is a sound card claiming to be "Sound-Blaster compatible." I found out the hard way that there
no substitute for the sound cards.
and most are
Sound-Blaster compatible. But since
characteristics to be compatible with the largest variety of software, just
will not have to be
Another way to acquire a CD-ROM is purchase a multimedia package. The package will normally include a CD-ROM drive, a sound card, speakers, and several software titles bundled with the hardware. Multimedia
concerned about any compatibility problems between your programs and sound card. Prices for sound cards oscillate around the Sound-Blaster prices, so I will give you prices
prices are approximations; everything changes
primarily to the differences in the individual
computer world. These are a few common Sound-Blaster cards and serve as representative performance levels of all sound
packages can vary widely
components. (Unless the software particularly appeal to you,
suggest buying the
individual components. You will save money.)
for the Sound-Blaster family. Again, these fast in the
A Multimedia Packages Without Software Multimedia packages that do not include software titles are composed of the CD-ROM drive, a 32-bit sound card with amplified speakers, and an AC adapter for the speakers. They have installation software included, plus all required cables and instructions. A package with a 52X IDE CD-ROM drive costs less than $75 and the same package with
Blaster Pro will cost
version, at $35 or so. A jump to 64-voice performance costs around $50, and is called the Sound Blaster Live! Audigy. The platinum version is more than $100. Advantages of the more expensive cards are discussed in Chapter 3. Figure 4-6 shows a standard 64-bit Sound Blaster Live! sound card. This generic sound card is the most commonly available, and is
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
ink-jet printer for identical copies is five to six
more expensive than with a laser printer. The best reason to get an ink-jet printer is color printing. If you have kids, get an ink jet. If you need presentation-quality color printing for work or home use, the ink jet is the only way to go. Many ink-jet printers will do neartimes
photographic quality printing.
don't forget price. The ink-jet printers
Stylus color ink-jet printer costs less than $100 today. The average HP laser printer, on the other hand, lists in the same catalog for $199. Both are near the lower Figure 4-6.
Blaster Live! sound card being
primarily used by superstores in their fastfood systems. It has some of the features available on the real thing, but lacks many of
The family of optical character readers, commonly called scanners, is being expanded daily. As scanners become more popular, they also become more affordable. When scanners first became available to the masses, they cost upward of $6,000. Today's full-page color
color ink-jet printer about
scanners can be purchased for less than $100. Hand-held scanners are even more affordable.
Printers I have found recently that the printer market is shifting toward the inexpensive color ink-jet home printer. This family of printers
two years, dropped hundreds of dollars.
has, in the last
manufacturers to run sale prices down to the $150 range. You should purchase the printer that suits your long-term needs, since printers typically last a long time and are relatively expensive to replace. laser printer
end of the price range in their respective though it is not uncommon for
paid an unbeatable
price. I was wrong! The average price for a color ink-jet printer with at least 300 dpi resolution is under $150. This makes obsolete everything except a good laser printer. I feel the two choices for home printers are a good ink-jet printer or a high-quality laser printer. The amount of black and white printing you do should influence your decision. If you do mostly high-quality blackand-white printing, get a laser printer. The speed of a laser printer is up to 10 times faster than an ink jet and the print quality is at least
You can purchase a monochrome, hand-held scanner for around $15 and the color version for $35.
The most important thing to know about scanners is the difference between true and interpolated resolution. Many inexpensive scanners use interpolation software to fill in the dots and advertise an interpolated resolution much higher that their actual performance. These scanners have true resolutions of 300 to 400 dpi, but report resolutions of
to 2,400 dpi!
Most scanners come with
allows a scanner to
four times better.
Consider price per copy when evaluating your printer needs. For black-and-white printing, a laser printer is much cheaper to
recognize each character of a document you scan and import the text into your computer for processing. You can then edit or fax the document as required. Obviously, anything you scan into your computer can be added to a
toner cartridge will outlast several
copy on an
DESIGNING YOUR COMPUTER AND SYSTEM
prepared document, including pictures. This fact makes a scanner a very useful tool for the
YOUR COMPUTER S PROTECTION
backup systems. Each compresses data by eliminating the unused space in data packets. If, in addition, you use coding to replace repetitive terms, you can approach 50 in
percent compression. In addition to removing the white space or
Here are some of the issues you must address in order to ensure a safe environment for
your computer and peripheral equipment.
Software Safety If you have ever experienced a hard disk crash but had not backed up your system, you know exactly what true horror is. You get to expend many hours trying to get back to where you were before the crash. Another thing to think about when considering such unspeakable disasters is the possibility of a computer virus invading your otherwise perfect system. Every time you go online or insert a disk into your system you risk infection.
to either of these
having a recent tape backup of everything on your system. With large disk capacities, the safest and most cost-effective way to keep an exact duplicate of everything on your system is tape. Figure 4-7 shows an external tape backup system and two disk-type backup systems. These are my backup systems of choice. The tape drive is for long-term backups, and puts 5 GB on each tape. The disk-type backup systems are both from IOMEGA. The vertically mounted Peerless drive will put 40 GB on a cartridge, while the Zip drive alongside only holds 100 MB. I use the Zip to shuttle copies of this and other books to and from the publisher while I use the Peerless drive to back up the entire computer on a weekly basis. Tape drives are available in internal and external types.
internal drives are
in text files, data compression software searches for repetitive strings. During compression, each string is replaced by a single character, or token. When a program
needs a portion of the compressed data, the compression software decompresses the data. Software compression is how most tape drives get 200-MB capacity from a 120-MB DC2120 tape cartridge.
For about $130 you can have an HP T5000 Travan tape drive, with up to 5 GB of storage
per tape. As you
guessed, the average storage capacity is somewhat less, and to get this capacity you must use longer Travan tapes. The external versions of these tape drives are normally $40 to $80 more expensive. The reason is simple. The tape drive must interface to your system in some manner. An internal tape drive shares resources with one of your floppy drives, and even shares a control cable with the drive. An external drive, on the other hand, must have its own power supply and enclosure. It must also have an interface compatible with either your printer port or
$40 to $80 less than the tape drive will put up to 5 GB on one cartridge if the data on your hard drive can be software compressed 2:1. The less
closer to 4.2
GB per tape.
software compression? There are several types of software compression used is
Figure 4-7. Several backup systems today.
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
have its own add-in card. What you are buying with an external one of your
serial ports, or
drive is more hardware and portability to other computers.
Protection from the Elements Review Chapter 3 to determine what type
power protection you require. The minimum should be a good surge suppression power strip. A good strip always comes with an equipment replacement guarantee. If your area has power problems, consider an UPS. These topics are covered at length in Chapter 1. of
Figure 4-8. The tools of the trade.
Looks Toys Toys are nice things
like this is
going to be easier than
thought, the novice computer builder thinks.
but some toys
essential parts of your computer and can both generate enjoyment and facilitate the work you perform. For example, I have a color scanner and use it to enhance documents I create by adding color pictures to them. I also have two game controllers and a host of small accessories too numerous to mention. Some accessories, such as microphones, allow you to interact with your computer in exciting ways. More than toys, my digital camera, memory stick reader, and digital video camera interface have become invaluable tools in my occasional book-writing experiences.
New toys— digital movie
and more— are coming out all the time. For every new game there is a new function added to existing game controllers. Examine options for playing on your computer, because all work and no play will make any computer user less efficient. You will be amazed when you compare your new computer's performance to the trainers, flight simulators,
What will amaze you more, perhaps, is your newfound willingness and ability to jump in fast-food variety with larger price tags.
Watch Out For
purchasing computer components,
there are a few pitfalls to look out
source for parts, examine how things are packaged. Add-on cards, motherboards, memory, and hard disk drives all have CMOS parts installed on them, which are extremely sensitive to electrostatic damage (ESD). Components of this type should be packaged in static-suppression packaging, such as sealed dark gray, black, or pink polyethylene bags labeled "Attention: Contents static sensitive.'' The motherboard and add-on cards should also be packaged inside a box. The primary reason computer components are DOA or die within the first month is attributable to poor handling of some kind, usually the result of electrostatic damage. Beware of missing or incorrect manuals or documentation. Check the manual against the parts to be certain you have all the
and software, hardware, documentation. The motherboard, hard disk, CD-ROM, and monitor each will come with
a book. Other items
two page handout. The
and an idea of the prices
of the parts you need to look for.
look at the tools required to build a computer. You will find these tools in nearly every household today and, if not, they are inexpensive to purchase.
scope out a prospective
and modify your computer as new options You now have the
with a one or
with software and several other documents, such as a manual for the software and quick setup guides. The CD-ROM will come with driver software and a cable. The sound card will have a book, two cables, and software.
Exactly what comes with each item you
DESIGNING YOUR COMPUTER AND SYSTEM
purchase varies widely, so be certain you open everything and check the packing list
in the microprocessor department.
Beware of places offering more than a 3 percent cash discount— the amount normally charged a supplier if he accepts a charge card. (Some get away with 2 percent.) Charge it if you can do it without incurring an additional cost, as you'll have more flexibility on returns
clone chips are available
to be much faster Celeron processors and the than Athalon processors to outgun the Pentium 4
devices in non-floating point applications.
additional speed for enthusiasts live
out some who want to
on the edge.
Judge quality in the products you purchase by completeness of documentation, proper packaging, and good ESD protection and packaging practices. One of my greatest fears is buying something that I will have to send away for service. Make it mandatory that the stores where you buy components or systems have a service center. If not, you may not be able to easily exchange a defective item.
These are the things I look out for. If you purchase from a catalog, see the cautions I list for catalog ordering later in this book. The cautions follow the extensive list of computer magazines and literature, since this is where you will select the magazines from which you make your purchases.
High-Performance Parts Several components enhance your computer's performance. The most significant is fast RAM. DDR RAM and RDRAM for the Pentium 4 systems are significant performance enhancers. In addition to
this, a fast
make itself evident Athalon XP system. will
Pentium 4 or
you get your computer parts home, do not handle them carelessly. The time to open the bags is while installing the components, and not before.
time arrives, handle all PC cards by the edges only and, before you touch any of the components, touch the bare metal part of your case to discharge any electrostatic voltage. Electrostatic damage is not immediately terminal. Tiny junctions within an electronic component can be damaged enough that, over time, the part degrades sufficiently to finally fail. The spark you receive from a metallic surface after walking on carpet is enough to destroy or damage many electrical parts in your computer. The damage may be slight, but a failure can occur up to six months from the this
damaging spark. I have an ESD-safe work area because I build so many computers. You will not damage anything in your computer if you follow the simple guidelines above. The documentation for your components may have initial
additional advice, so follow instructions
5 Software Selection Software
the principal reason people buycomputers. Without software, a computer is merely a box with hardware inside. Nothing ever accomplished with a computer happened without software programs running things. At today's prices, the software you purchase can cost more than your computer but, unless you have software in your computer, the only thing you have to show for your expenditure is a high-speed moron. Just a quick interjection: software consists of lists of instructions written in computer language that tell the hardware in your computer what you want it to do. The firmware instruction sets written into your system BIOS as permanent memory configure the hardware to operate properly, but you must install programs to exercise any control over your hardware. Thousands of software companies are hungry for your money and support. There are so many programs out there you could never install all of them in a single computer; you must choose the programs that support what you want to do. This chapter will help you do that and, in the process, save hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Computer software is categorized according to basic functions. There are word processing programs (like the one that built this book), database programs, Windows
programs and utilities,
games, and the
non-Windows programs and goes on.
will take a detailed
categories later in this chapter.
Prices for software will vary significantly depending
where you purchase
also discounts for upgrades
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
There are you already have it.
can buy) a previous version of the software installed on your computer. You will find that good software packages often cost more than your computer, but never buy software until (or
get several price quotes.
could give to friends who might be less upgrade-conscious. I kept the old stuff, just in case... Where do I buy software? I live in a very competitive area for computer unregistered, that
possibilities are endless.
various computer stores, depending on offers the best
WANT TO SAVE LOTS OF MONEY?
upgrade discount. Other good
use are the
Here's a brief
GIVE THIS TRICK A TRY read about and then tried a neat trick to reduce my software expenditures. Several local vendors in my area make a good business of buying outdated software from retail
Computer Discount Warehouse www.cdw.com Computer World www.computerworld.com Dell www.dell.com
vendors. They pay pennies on the dollar. Then, they offer the software at substantially reduced prices to people who are not interested in the latest and greatest.
Here's the trick. You can qualify to receive substantial discounts on great software packages if you have older versions of either
same software or
a competitor's version.
Desktop Publishing www.publisliingperfection.com Global Software
PC Zone Shareware Express Tiger Software
Step by Step Find a vendor of obsolete software.
, a legitimate and very helpful company that can send you a catalog of older software.
Then identify the software packages you want. Look for software that offers either a competitive upgrade or special price for upgrades. For example,
bought an old version
of Microsoft Visual Basic for $30. Instead of
ran over to Egghead Software with the unopened box and purchased the new installing
Visual Basic 5.0 professional version for $94. The regular price for this software is $498. I
writing this book with Microsoft
Office Suite for
bought Word 2 for Windows at $29.95 and went to a local computer warehouse. I paid $199 for a $540 software package. By the time I was finished I had saved more than $1,500 by either purchasing outdated competitor's software or buying older versions, then upgrading. I also had a cache of older software, unopened and it? I
www2.warehouse.com www.pcconnection.com www.pczone.com www.filelibrary.com
can't find one, contact
MAC and PC
mentioned several types of software that Now, let's take a closer look. Every computer uses an operating system of some type. Many systems have more than I
DOS, Windows 9X, Windows 2K, XP, NT,
and OS-2, are the systems commonly used on the IBM-compatible family of computers. Utilities are programs used as tools to correct problems or tune your computer from a software standpoint. SpinRite, Norton Utilities, Checkit Pro Analyst, and PC Tools are examples.
processors, spreadsheets, database programs, and drawing programs are
necessary to most computer users. I will go into detail on some of these later in this chapter. Suites are combinations of the abovementioned programs built into one large program. More on these later, too. Figure 5-1 shows a sample of the programs used by a typical desktop publisher. A desktop publisher often must utilize several programs to achieve a given task, and
Outlook Express j
USB Card Reader
Adobe Acrobat 4,0
Instant Messenger (5M)
Nor ton AntiVirus
HP PrecisionScan LT Software
J> Windows Media
SHINY Shiny Entertainment Star Trek
True Internet Color Ulead VideoStudio 4.0 SE AudioSoft Br other
Netscape Communicator Professional
Microsoft Office Tools
Microsoft Access Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Outlook Microsoft PowerPoint
Microsoft Office Small Business Tools
S &® M
good Windows 2000 environment.
many more programs
average user. Of course, he will have Windows 95 or NT. Figure 5-2 shows a Windows 2K
have looked at several aspects of software, including where to buy and tricks to get better prices. at the
take a detailed look
software types and programs within
common type. Remember that there are more programs than we could possibly talk about. The ones I each
available to you.
in a store
with the software you
might be interested in purchasing. Obviously, you will have to try several different stores, to get a good sample of software types, but it is worth your time. Many software titles fall short of your expectations, and software is very difficult to return to the store. Try it before you buy it!
discuss are the most often utilized programs,
according to the sales personnel I know. The best approach to deciding on the software you will be purchasing is the trybefore-you-buy technique. Several options are
DOS I always start discussions of operating systems by talking about DOS, the disk operating system used by the industry for
Windows 2000 opening
has over 70 commands but, use only a few of them.
other operating systems
My DOS installing
operating system like
the operating system you prefer. DOS is excellent for repairing problems in other systems, especially if you cannot properly initialize
editing features of
Windows 2K. The allow you to edit the
©j chapters - Micros...
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
WIN.INI and SYSTEM.INI and fix many problems caused by improper installation of Windows. DOS is an excellent tool for emergency backups if you have a tape drive. (And you will have one, if you follow my recommendations!) In the event of a destructive crash that forces you to format or replace your hard drive, you need only install DOS and the tape backup software to recover. initialization files
plus your tape software will finish the
reinstallation of your software
your old configuration. If you install Win 9X, be sure to keep DOS running under it. Win 9X allows you to restart in DOS mode, if you have to. Some older programs do not properly run in a Windows environment.
ME and Windows 2K allow you to enter a CMD mode. It is a DOS clone that allows to
perform the same
very comfortable, so it will be around for a long time. It is a 16-bit operating system, however, so it is inherently slower than Win 95. It is only for people that will never buy another software program in their life.
Windows 98 and Windows
This upgrade from Windows 95 is a hybrid system with both 16-bit code and 32-bit code. It is measurably faster than Windows 3.1 and even more stable, especially running older DOS programs. The memory management is superior to any other operating system, and multitasking is easier also. You will find it easier to use, and upgrades are much simpler under Windows 98 or ME. Both hardware and software installations move much more smoothly. Windows 98 has its own programs, and 32-bit upgrades for most Windows software are now available. I outfitted my Windows 2K system with upgrades for Microsoft Office, Visual Basic, Microsoft Works, and Microsoft Publisher. Of course, I
by using the competitive upgrade technique mentioned earlier in this chapter. for a fraction of the
in the Smithsonian!)
Windows NT and Windows 2000 Look for a Windows NT variant to be operating system of the future.
on the RISC machines mentioned in Chapters 2 and 3. Though it is designed for high-end users and workstation environments,
Though obsolete, this program will die hard; many people refuse to make the jump to Windows 95. Windows 3.1 is a fairly stable environment with which many people are
RAM RAM (there's
2K, but runs on less of a computer, and with a requirement. A 286-16 with 4 smaller
soon be in the
Advancements by Microsoft
focus on Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP, all 32-bit variants of the same basic
Why? It works on both CISC and RISC machines equally well. It is a true 32-bit operating system, with
the functionality of
Windows 98 and much more. New software written with a Windows NT variant in mind will be streamlined and fast, and the NT front end is very easy and comfortable to use. It is also the most stable operating system in use today. Windows XP, the current state of the
document design functionality, and
strongly focused on
and voice recognition geared toward networking and Internet functionality. It has software to improve Web-based sourcing, and will be the software of choice in all new Intel-based machines. (It also unleashes tremendous power in all Athalon-based machines with the
look at some useful program types other than operating systems. let's
This true 32-bit operating system includes multitasking, full DOS program support, full support for programs written for Windows, and large memory addressing. It is a good alternative to Windows 2K, but takes getting used to. It has a bit less functionality than Win
Utility programs are your personal incomputer toolbox. They do everything from clean out and organize your file system to repair
the first disk repair utility I used. The original version for and RLL hard drives could repair bad portions of your hard drive. and RLL are two obsolete hard-drive technologies. Due to is
BUILD, UPGRADE, AND REPAIR
changes in hard-drive architecture (such as sector translation), SpinRite is limited to recovering data and moving it to a safe part of your hard drive. Sector translation is one way of fooling DOS and older computer BIOS into
than one of these
specialized tools. Personally,
Norton package. It has the most functionality in one program for my personal requirements.
VIRUS DETECTION AND PROTECTION
recognizing very large hard drives.
Symantec's Norton Utilities and SystemWorks 2001 encompass a large set of unique capabilities. Norton can repair damaged or lost files, recover recently erased files and directories, back up your computer, and run in the background. By running as a background process, Norton allows you to continue using your computer while it does its work. The Windows 9X, 2K, ME, and NT version includes a protected recycle bin, which means even when you empty the trash you still can recover most deleted files. Both include a feature called image, which creates a mirror image of your file archive table and stores it safely. If you lose your original FAT, you have a backup. Remember that the FAT is an index
program— designed by
quite a bit about computers
and software— to corrupt some aspect of your computer's performance. The virus is placed on a public access domain such as the Internet or an online service such as Prodigy. When you access the infected file, the virus can be transferred into your computer.
Some viruses have completely shut down military defense systems, automatic payroll systems, and computerized phone systems all over the country. A virus in a company computer can wreak all kinds of havoc. In your home computer, a virus can format your hard drive, erase some or all of your data,
your computer. Norton Utilities has the ability to automatically correct problems as they happen. You are prompted for this option
modify the way some programs run, print obscene messages on your screen, or just make your speaker go off at unusual times.
to all the files in
a valuable option,
keeps your computer in top tune. Another utilities program is PC Tools, also by Symantec, which has embedded anti-virus tools, backup support, a shell program, and as
data recovery capabilities.
Checkit Pro, from Touchstone Software , is an analysis program designed to keep you updated on your computer's configuration. It can test performance and benchmark your system as well. Virtual Drive, from Farstone Tech, emulates a CD drive, allowing you to create up to
repartition your hard drive, prep a
you to new drive,
and makes drive maintenance significantly easier than before.
You will notice
a lot of functionality
overlap in the utility programs.
Viruses can be tricky, and
them. Symantec offers a great anti-virus program in Norton AntiVirus 2001. Another to check out is F-Prot from to get rid of
program that can find as-yet-unknown viruses by looking for their characteristics.
pioneer in anti-virus programs, and constantly updates their programs as new viruses arrive. Finally, try Invircible from NetZ Computing . This program scans for polymorphic (moving) viruses by cleaning
main and video memory, then searching quickly through all files by checking them against their signature.
on any of your programs, find
Other programs have anti-virus routines embedded in their program set. The boot block virus checker in most motherboard
Note: To be effective, an anti-virus program must be updated regularly. Be certain you have a program newer than 1 month old.
synonymous, the Corel PerfectOffice suite was born. This suite encloses WordPerfect
HOME OFFICE PROGRAMS
2002, Quattro Pro, Presentations, InfoCentral, GroupWise, and Envoy in a single system.
Since Corel and WordPerfect have
you're going to buy a publishing program, a database or spreadsheet program, and a graphics package I recommend If
suite "packages" several
a publishing program,
an e-mail, scheduling, and task manager.
Presentations, like the Office program's PowerPoint, is a presentation designer. Quattro Pro, like Lotus 1-2-3, is an excellent spreadsheet, and WordPerfect is an excellent
useful functions, or programs, in one package
the acquisition of Ventura Publisher, Corel created a suite of its own.
a better bundle price than the individual elements. A suite includes a common interface between the packages, making it simple to move tables, graphs, and pictures from one document to another. The Lotus SmartSuite includes the latest Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet, the Word Pro Approach publisher, Freelance Graphics, and Organizer programs. It also includes a SmartMaster template and Lotus Assistants to merge the separate programs into a seamless system. Separately, the programs would be very expensive, but you can find this package for under $400. Or, if you can find an older version, you can walk away with the upgrade for less than $170. This is less than any one of the included programs would cost. The Microsoft OfficeXP Professional
available in Windows XP and versions. It combines Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Scheduler, and Access into one seamless system. The Windows 2K version is 32 bit, and at least twice as fast as the Windows 9X program. To purchase Word, Excel, and Access
you would have to pay $900. The five-program package retails for $329, but the upgrade price is only $250. (Less if on sale.) Obviously, if you need any two of the separately,
programs, it's cheaper to buy the suite. Purchasing the suite also buys you the seamless interactivity of the Office program, with its many wizard programs. These page wizards will auto-format any type of presentation document you wish. There is even the capability of placing moving pictures and sound in your presentation.
Ventura Publisher, photos, fonts, and clip art. Though not as comprehensive as the other suites, it's a
Microsoft Works, one of the many "freebie" programs normally bundled in the "software package valued at $1,000" included with a fast-food computer system. At less than $80 retail, it represents a
start for a
should now go into depth on several of the programs that build a suite. Some people may not wish to buy all the programs in a suite, but rather own just one. Most programs in a suite are available individually.
Example: Microsoft Office includes Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
only need Microsoft Word, just buy
The following programs
are suite elements
broken out separately: Spreadsheets
Business applications often require a method to display and manipulate large amounts of related numeric data. Programs designed for this purpose are called spreadsheets. They have the ability to handle accounting tasks, expenses, provide forecasting, display and change inventory numbers, and create presentations of the results. Most spreadsheets will automatically perform math operations on large databases, as you require. Most will display data in graphic format if you request it. If you are like
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
me, and your work sometimes follows you home, a spreadsheet program is critical. Examples of feature-filled spreadsheets are Microsoft Excel, Novel Quattro Pro, and Lotus 1-2-3. Lotus is the original spreadsheet of choice for the PC, functioning as a spreadsheet, graphics package, and database. Microsoft Excel doubles as a database and provides easy to use menus for the inexperienced user. Borland's Quattro Pro looks and works like Lotus 1-2-3, so much so that Lotus attempted
(and failed) to sue Borland. The Borland package has several features that make it unique. Like Excel, Quattro Pro has pull-down
menus, but unlike Lotus, Quattro Pro can print sideways.
can, however, manipulate
Database Programs Like spreadsheet programs, database programs are designed for the office environment. Most people will not need this
Fairy loads their trunk with something special to take home at
with them. Like a spreadsheet program, a database can store and manipulate large amounts of data. Most have built-in search and sort functions. Database programs store information, allow you to perform calculations on it, sort it, and create reports from the data. Microsoft Access allows you to work with a replicated copy of database files. It will then synchronize the changes with the master document. You can grab flat file data from a wide variety of different formats and create a relational database from the data. Application performance can be monitored and improved with the onboard performance analyzer wizard. This menu-driven application allows you to optimize spreadsheet manipulation. If this means nothing to you, do NOT buy this program— you don't need it. I
and abandoned it. The Windows version is much more user-friendly and an extremely powerful program. The onboard tutorials and help menus enable you to quickly learn the program, a real plus in today's stress-filled
easy to click and drag much simpler to create.
forms, and reports are
People that use Borland Paradox claim it has features that make it uniquely easy to use
The main menu
each menu item opens up subtopics associated with the item, a great feature for the novice
Word Processing Processing data and thoughts into readable
documents and manipulating
text are the
primary reasons computers are used today. That means word processing software is the most used software currently available. More than 30 word-processing software packages are available in a variety of languages.
Spelling and thesaurus subprograms are useful. Multiple formats are a necessity, including page layout, outline, and full-page
The ability to easily import graphics, and pictures is essential in today's
desktop publishing environment. Let's look some programs.
Microsoft Word is the program that stole me away from WordPerfect 5.1. Why? First, I already used Word for Windows at work. The first thing I found out is you can use WordPerfect commands in Word. I thought, if
made things this easy for a WP nut like me, how hard could the program be to learn? I decided to try it at home where I had the they
luxury to learn at a leisurely pace. I never even opened the book. Each time I needed to determine what action an icon performed, I placed the mouse pointer on the icon and the computer told After
tried the auto-
format function and achieved automatic and great results.
erased WordPerfect from my hard drive the next day and upgraded to Microsoft Office. Briefly, Microsoft Word for Windows 9X I
and XP pro both have drag and drop adding charts, graphs, and pictures documents, and a
spell check, thesaurus,
and the capability
print or fax within the program. I
hate to admit
haven't been back
WordPerfect environment since version do most of the functions of Microsoft Word. The interface has always been an easy one to learn, and the ease of importing text and graphics is wonderful. Since the merge with Corel, I'm certain WordPerfect will become one of the top contenders for the desktop publishing and word
Properly kept records will merge with Turbotax at tax time, and create a complete tax return with minimal input from you. Your
processing marketplace. Tremendous improvements have already occurred. Power
primary contribution will be the signature the end of the tax form.
certain you give
5.1. It has the ability to
users of the
insist that the
use than any other desktop publishing program. One of the first word processors was WordStar. I wrote my first novel on it. It still resides on my old XT, and is the only word
processor this machine will support today.
use it sometimes machines are tied up. still
recently read that WordStar
has one of the most
available, so don't expect
to get rid of this
very special program. Though WordStar has fallen behind the others in the bells and whistles category, I believe it is one of the easiest programs to learn and use for basic publishing. Now, let's stray from the office environment, and look at some good software for
Home Accounting Home
an important part of
and programmers recognize this. Peachtree Accounting's Windows version is the multi-user solution. It is a popular home-accounting solution that is networkready upon installation. It handles invoicing, general ledger, budgeting, receivables, and daily
numerous other $120, making it for
costs less than
a realistically priced package
Microsoft Money, a freebie with Windows 9X, is a more basic program catering to the casual home user. You can schedule, manage, and pay bills with this program. You can even print your own checks. It has a retirement planner built in. If you have to pay for the program, it is less than $15 for the Win 3.1 version and under $30 for Win 95. Be
Quicken, from the co-op created by the
office accounting package.
Quicken offers full-featured interaction
version or WordPerfect
with your banking institution. With a modem, you can perform most banking tasks through the phone lines. Quicken has investment advice,
one package. A quick note on the subject of banking over the Internet: You can be certain that someone is watching every aspect of any transaction you make. Keep your banking transactions private by using a modem along with the phone number supplied by your banking institution. Do not use the Internet. Also, keep in mind the lack of security on the Internet when you are tempted to give out your charge card number. Many people have all in
Now, step into my office. These are the two programs I use the most.
Programming and Development
Microsoft Visual Basic 6 revolutionized the programming environment of Basic. The interactive tutorial is a modular, completely interactive course with flexible search routines, good notes, and sample code. This program is the fastest way I have seen to create clean, good code and state-of-the-art solutions to
programming what Visual Basic is for Basic programming. Version 6 introduces the Component gallery, a one-step storage area for reusable objects. The Microsoft Foundation Class Library, or MFC, contains more than 120,000 lines of code in 150+ classes. This proven and tested code enables you to get online quickly. The application wizards you can create easily will double your throughput.
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
There are quite a few graphics programs that allow you to design and print color cards, posters, and envelopes. Here are some examples. The Print Shop Deluxe CD Ensemble from Broderbund Software comes on one CDROM or a large handful of 3.5-inch floppies. You can pick the project you wish, then choose graphics from a long list of candidates. This program supports greeting cards, labels, signs, calendars, custom-designed envelopes,
and more. With more than 4,500 graphic images to choose from, you may never use the same one twice. It runs in Windows and
The special option that Announcements, from Parson's Technology, offers is the capability of making large-format posters. The program divides the poster into 8 1/2x1 1-inch modules and configures your color printer to print each module separately. You can attach the pages together to make a large banner if you wish. Thus, you can make great
large banners with relative ease. It is available in CD-ROM format, or on 3.5-inch floppy disks for
Windows 9X and 2K
program that allows you to introduce multimedia to your presentations. You can create speaking greeting cards and moving e-mail. It has an easy-to-use interface, so learning the program is simple. You can personalize sounds and morph between two Studio
different photos. Available in 3.5-inch floppies.
RANDOM ACTS OF PROGRAMMING There are so many programs out there! Here are just a few that caught my eye. Anything that can create a television image can be captured in your computer with Snappy for Windows. Images from camcorders, VCRs, and laser disks are available for your computer enjoyment. A morph program is included to further manipulate the images. Stills can be created from any of the sources listed above, and more. Easy-to-use movie file editing, more than 70 filter effects, and a multiple-document
makes Corel Photo Paint an
excellent addition to your computer.
and edit program, easy and convenient to use.
this is a full-featured paint
Autodesk Animator Studio has
animated images for games, Web-site logos, and audio-visual presentations. The true-color environment enhances the full motion and sound creations you generate. This program requires a CD-ROM. See the human anatomy as you have never seen it before with rotating 3-D representations that allow you to zoom in and out. BodyWorks is probably the best reference module of its kind. You will need a CD-ROM running at 24X or faster to get full ability to create
benefit of the solid
of this program.
The Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia is extremely easy to use. It has pull-down menus, full-color video presentations, and stereo sound. Microsoft Encarta
on CD-ROM. More than six hours
multimedia entertainment is available with Grolier Encyclopedia. Full narration on complex topics is included. This program is available on
You will spend hours just viewing the options available on the After Dark screen saver. This heavily endowed and well-
animated multimedia screen saver
can be found on 3.5-inch disks or CD-ROM. Several packages are available for this screen saver, including the "Outer Space" and "Sierra Club" collections. With Microsoft Scenes, you can customize your own screen saver using pictures you choose. I have included several dozen scanned photographs in my collection. Available on 3.5-inch disks. A must if you have Quicken, TurboTax is an easy way to handle even fairly complicated tax preparation. I have legitimately saved many thousands of dollars on my taxes using favorite. It
TurboTax, and can recommend no better program for doing personal taxes. Like BodyWorks, It's Legal comes to us from Parson's Technology. It's Legal is an excellent source for legal documents of all
have saved many hours of a lawyer's time using this program. Parsons Technology has a great PDR also. This prescription drug reference is a necessary product to have, particularly if you have small children. While on the subject of Parsons software, I want to mention their tax software. Their Personal Tax Edge program is less costly than TurboTax, and will suit many individual types.
tax preparers just as well.
you have kids in school, consider Mathcad. You can make full graphic representations of math equations, enabling If
allows you to install the program. The package they offer is expansive, but not expensive, and
you may find many of the programs that you want are on the disk.
INTERNET-BASED DISTRIBUTORS Let's take a brief look at typical software
from an Internet-based
Business and Office Microsoft Office XP Professional Upgrade: $249. Features: Document design tools,
voice recognition capability, network
an easy grasp of complex problems. Inserting math equations and graphs into existing documents is easy with Mathcad.
and Internet Web-based sourcing. WordPerfect Office 2002 Professional
Though the Internet is a library in itself, perhaps the best way to surf the 'Net is Netscape Navigator. Available for Win 9X, 2K and NT, this
processing, spreadsheets, presentations, e-mail
Electronic Acrobatics: $239.99. Features: Share, review, and edit documents across
There are so many programs available this chapter barely scratches the surface. There's software for just about anything you want to do with a computer. Read the reviews, literature, or box carefully before you make your purchases. Check for functionality overlap between software packages. It is expensive to buy two packages that provide
broad networks. Converts office files and documents to PDF (portable document format). Business Plan Pro: $79.99. Features: A
of single-click options.
for additional functionality.
thing about software:
and address book. Speech recognition and database management. client,
17-question query providing financial help to get your venture seeded. plan outlines.
The Software Dispatch Company will send you a CD-ROM with programs on it. You can try them out with a software key for a limited time. A software key is a program that allows you to use the programs you might like to purchase. If you like them, you buy them and the company "unlocks" the programs so you can install them on your computer. This is one CD-ROM that the manufacturer encourages you to pass around to your friends. When you want to buy a program, they give you a password over the phone that
Microsoft Money: $34.99. Features: A good and easy way to keep track of expenditures for
buy. In most cases, this is impossible, unless your friend has the program or a computer salesman gives you a demonstration of the program. try before
Upgrade: $249. Features: Advanced word
Pro: $499.99. Features: OCR (optical character recognition) scan software allows you to scan text and graphics into an
application for editing. This is the one program that will allow you to scan nearly any format and type of document, including photos with text, and allow editing from another unrelated program.
Word Processing Corel WordPerfect Family Pack: $69.99. Features: Desktop publishing and document formatting for home or school. Easy to learn and use. Microsoft Word 2002 Upgrade: $69.99. Features: Desktop publishing. Converters from most other publishing programs to RTF word documents. Easy picture editing and insertion.
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
For the Kids
Island: $24.99. Features: Thinking
game using animated characters
Study Works Science Deluxe: $39.99. Features: Extra help for the beginning science student.
Spy Fox: $19.99. Features: Save the world Ozone threat. Let's Get Physics: $19.99. Features: Save
the world with physics.
sample of the tremendous
amount of software available. I often use Amazon.com to evaluate my software needs. These programs, and many others, are from Amazon. Now is a good time to shut the door on software and move on to Chapter 6, where we available online
Communication QuickLink Mobile: $79.99.
Use your laptop and a wireless phone to work from anywhere. Procomm Plus: $132.99. Features: Supports 30 different terminal types. Data
will begin the experience of building a
gathering dust, in this information.
Education Standardized Test Prep for Preppies: $39.99. Features: More than 2,700 sample tests and information on selecting college, applying for scholarships, and improving study skills. A must for anyone that wishes to
take a look at one of
early newsletters that defines a problem with
you have one lying around you might have some interest
With each innovation
computers today, up to the software
problems tend to crop up. It is designers and code writers to reduce or eliminate the hardware issues and incompatibilities that
problem and shows what the software people had to do to implement a durable fix. occur. This article describes the
SHADOW'S RULES FAT32
MEANS TO YOU
Imagine buying a second computer with the intention of sharing resources between the two and finding out, through experimentation, that it is impossible. What has happened and why? This article attempts to answer your questions.
was invented as a means to store and retrieve data to and from both floppy and hard disk assemblies. Very few improvements in the technology of the FAT structure have been implemented, at least up to now. The only major improvements in file allocation of note have been to modify the FAT to allow use of larger hard disk assemblies. From its invention for use on floppy disks through the adaptation that supports 2-GB hard disks, support for larger hard drives has been the principal concern. That is, until now. Microsoft, in its infinite wisdom, broke the FAT16 barrier by introducing FAT32 in its newest release of Windows 95, a version available to the home user ONLY if purchased on a new computer. (This version is available only to OEM suppliers, and cannot be independently purchased.) This introduction has its good and bad points, and we will examine them now. The FAT,
The Good computers come with 2.5 GB and larger hard drives, which must be partitioned into two or more virtual drives to make use of any space beyond 2.0 GB. I have built computers with 9.1-GB hard drives and had to make a bunch of 2-GB partitions to use the drive. FAT32 increases the allowable hard disk size to 2,000 GB. Now the answer to, "Why does my 1.6-GB hard drive only hold 1.1 GB of data?" For the answer, I contacted Western Digital, a hard disk manufacturer. Cluster size is the answer. Each file stored on a hard disk must take up at least one cluster, or allocation unit. An allocation unit is the smallest amount of room a file can occupy on your hard disk. Cluster size increases with the size of your hard disk partition. The following table gives more information.
MB 128 - 255 MB 256 - 511 MB 512 - 1,023 MB 1,024 - 2,047 MB
KB KB 8 KB 16 KB 32 KB
0 - 127
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? it is not partitioned, each file, no matter how small, will occupy at least 32 only 100 bytes will waste 30,000 bytes of your valuable hard-disk space! FAT32, as you must have guessed, gets rid of this problem, too. The user can configure FAT32 to set cluster size at 4 KB, allowing the user to increase usable disk space by 15 - 30 percent. Other improvements include the ability to eliminate the current limitation on the number of directories you can create in the root directory. Since FAT32 treats the root directory as just another cluster chain, it can be any size and located anywhere on the hard disk. You can eliminate the annoying need to run FDISK and destroy all your hard disk's data when resizing partitions, too. Sounds too good to be true? Let's look further.
you have a 2-GB hard disk and
of hard-disk space.
A small batch file
The Bad Everything in life has advantages and disadvantages. FAT32 is no exception. Microsoft does not intend to test FAT32 on older hardware, so no guarantees of compatibility will be implied or stated. At this time, nobody has released utilities that will convert your existing hard disk to a FAT32-compatible hard
and Microsoft will not assume that responsibility. Even on new computers with pre-installed FAT32-compatible systems, problems can occur. As of now, no other operating systems, including Win 3.1 and Win NT, are guaranteed to work. Forget using your dual-boot machine with FAT32. Legacy hardware and software may be incompatible. If you have older external hard disks, backup systems with accelerator cards, zip drives, or other external peripherals that read and write to the hard disk, you may be out of luck. Existing drive space and Microsoft Plus applications are out. You cannot compress file systems formatted with FAT32. According to what I have read, it seems that disk maintenance features will be supported by updated versions of FDISK, FORMAT, DEFRAG and ScanDisk. I suggest using FAT32 only if your new computer comes with it. Never hook up any older peripherals to the new system. disk,
assembled a computer
The next time I came home with found that my wife, in her infinite
boxes of parts I wisdom, had purchased a small card table with a soft vinyl cover. This was her way of convincing me the dining room table was inappropriate for use as a secondary computer-testing site. I totally agree. For a few dollars, she gave me a spot of vinyl to call my own. Choose your assembly site carefully. Make certain there is enough room to safely put your computer together and that there is power available for operational tests. Ensure in advance the table can support the combined weight of the computer components and that it is
a stable workstation.
You have come a long way to get to this point in the project. You have a considerable pile of computer parts and accessories before you, but you are going to make sense of it all. Look at Figure 6-1 to see the pile of parts Lisa turned into a computer.
you will be able to The real benefits come when you put your computer to use, the whole time realizing you created that wonderful machine. I still get goose bumps when I think of the money I have saved through the years by building and finish this chapter,
confidently and efficiently build your computer.
Read on. The process goes quickly from here.
BUILD, UPGRADE, AND REPAIR
Figure 6-1: The components of a computer.
ASSEMBLING YOUR NEW COMPUTER The first step is inspection. Confirm you have everything you need. Inspect all components for damage and completeness of assembly documentation, and be certain you have all the interconnecting cables. Connect all
cables to the add-in cards to be certain you
are normally already set to default
The next step is component configuration. Your computer will be made of parts from a variety of manufacturers, as occurs in most computers today. Each component will have configurable options. Many components have hardware jumpers to select those options. A jumper connects two circuits together and is like a switch. You can select options, such as clock
IRQ on an
You check of someone
positions that provide the fewest conflicts.
are just performing a final
better to find any
configuration problems early.
are not short anything.
speed on a motherboard or
Read all documentation carefully and preset all jumpers to the default settings spelled out in the documentation supplied with each card.
motherboard is it will tell you the configuration for your CPU for the
the most critical guide because
Many CPUs run
on different powersupply voltages and clock frequencies. If you have any doubt of the correct motherboard jumper settings, the vendor can help. The supplied documentation should help you find the correct settings. There is always a
with configuration jumpers.
to follow if the
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
are too confusing.
Other cards may have configuration jumpers but I have found that few use them today. The PnP motherboards and add-on cards set themselves up when you turn on the computer. Hopefully you have one or more of these components.
The Athalon 1800+ motherboard in my computer has no jumpers because it "autodetects" the CPU, the cache, and the RAM. The first time I turned on my computer, the configuration was loaded into BIOS on the motherboard. This type of setup is the best and easiest because no manual configuration is
Nearly all motherboards built after March 1996 have BIOS that supports both Intel and clone microprocessors and auto-detects PnP add-in components. It is unlikely you will have to configure a motherboard but if you do, the following information will help.
that even if you have configuration jumpers, the default positions are generally the best. Figure 6-2 shows a motherboard with configuration jumpers, each labeled JP followed by a number.
The jumpers on
voltage to the CPU, clock frequency, IDE master or slave connector priority, and cache memory size. Some of these parameters change with each different type of CPU you can install.
I/O card with cables.
to set jumpers on the motherboard you selected, look at Figure 6-2. Your jumpers, if any, will be different. The documentation with your motherboard will help you perform any necessary configuration changes required by CPU type, RAM type, and cache size. This is the most precise part of the entire computer-building experience, and the only If
task that requires anything
more than a
screwdrivers. You might need a pair of tweezers or small needle-nose pliers to move the jumpers. At this point the cards have either been configured by you or the factory. Jumpers have set default conditions and each
perform one additional task. I find it easier to connect any ribbon cables to the add-on cards now. That way you do not have to fight the cable, case, and cards to install them while the card is inside the case, and you can see the connector pins better and ensure the connectors mate properly with the cables. A quick word about alignment of connectors to cables: Normally, the connectors
on the add-in cards and motherboards have a pin 1 designation. It is either an inverted triangle near the pin designated as pin
same type on the cable connector. An
This pin aligns with the
to look at the cable itself.
Nearly all cables have a red wire on one end. This is pin 1 of the cable assembly. Power cables are the exception. They are keyed and can plug in only one way. Cards with cables attached include a sound card, an IDE I/O card (if required), any tape controller card, and any CD-ROM add-on card, such as a SCSI interface card. Figure 6-3 shows an IDE I/O card with the cables attached. Note: this card has jumpers for and IRQ settings, which we discussed in detail earlier. Neither has to be moved from default, however, upon installation into the case. Use this card only if you need additional drives. The excellent documentation for the card depicts exactly how to connect each ribbon
Example: You buy memory in DIMM that are 128 MB in size. You have two banks of sockets on the motherboard. You fill the computer with two 128-MB DIMM, resulting in 256 MB of RAM. Now you must replace the DIMM with a larger capacity DIMM in order to upgrade RAM. If you had purchased one
require only adding
Be certain to follow
connector polarities when installing the cables to the card. An inverted triangle mark on the connector or a red-colored wire on the cable normally identifies pin 1. The card should have a triangle-shaped mark showing pin 1 or a pin 1 designation. Consult the documentation for all
MOTHERBOARD MEMORY AND CPU INSTALLATION
Handle the processor as you would an add-
You will find a zero insertion force (ZIF) on your motherboard that allows you to easily remove and replace the CPU for upgrades. With the motherboard's documentation handy, install the processor and confirm any jumper on
changes necessary. To install the processor, lift up on the handle attached to the socket, drop the processor in, and return the handle to its original position. It's that easy.
a heat sink
and usually a
fan mounted on top of them for additional cooling. Installation of these processors is identical to the one mentioned above. If the CPU has a fan attached, the power cable mates with any of the power cables for hard drives that are in the case, or installs directly
You may have purchased a motherboard with memory, cache, and processors so, skip this step. If not, install
Memory will is
keyed. To install a
module lock the
memory as the
in a slanted position in the socket.
SIMM and you
in position, raise
to a vertical
snap into place. be installed in certain banks on certain motherboards. If so,
Memory may have
the documentation will assign certain pairs of
bank 0, 1,2, and 3, if so equipped. You must fill bank 0, then 1, and so on, until you run out of memory or all banks are filled. I recommend buying memory in a size that will fill only one bank so that memory sockets as
upgrades mean just filling another bank. If you fill all your banks with lower capacity memory, you will have to replace the smaller capacity
in order to upgrade.
connector on the motherboard. The manual gives details. The only additional work you may have to perform on the motherboard is installing the cache memory heat sink or fan. Most motherboards for Pentium 4 and Athalon processors will already have this installed. to a
The add-on cards
They have the cables installed as required. The motherboard has memory, cache, and the CPU installed. The configured.
configured for installation. So,
what's keeping you?
MOTHERBOARD INSTALLATION Open the case and remove the hardware inside. Most cases have one side that folds down where you install the motherboard. This
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
Figure 6-4. Installing the motherboard in the case.
usually the right-hand side, with the front of the case facing you. The other side is open. is
There will be several screws holding the folddown side in position. Remove them now, and
remove or lay down the side. Discharge static by touching the case anywhere on the bare metal surface. Remove the motherboard from its ESD protective container and lay it on the open side. Rotate the motherboard until the round keyboard connector faces the rear of the case. The two power connectors on the motherboard should also be to the rear of the case.
Align the motherboard with the mounting holes on the case side, and install the standoffs
wherever possible. There should be enough metal standoffs in the hardware package.
in all locations
where a hole
motherboard coincides with a location in may already be one there. This is the primary ground for the motherboard. Refer to figures 6-4, 6-6, and 6-9 for further visual assistance. Note: Figure 6-6 shows a in the
the case. There
plastic slide alternative to metal screws.
With the plastic standoffs, if supplied, attached to the bottom of the motherboard where they align with the slides on the case motherboard into place. When the holes in the motherboard align with the ground standoffs, secure the motherboard with screws from the hardware kit. Refer to Figure 6-9 for screw types. The proper screws to use are the finely machined ones, not the rough sheet-metal screws. Figure 6-6 shows side, slide the
the plastic slides that sometimes are used to secure motherboards in lieu of metal screws.
The next steps apply to all types of cases. Connect the cables from the turbo and reset switches and lights for turbo, power, and hard-disk operation. Connect the power cables from the case to the motherboard. In the nonATX case, the two power cables have six wires each, of which two are black. When the power cables are properly installed, the four black wires should be alongside each other at the center of the two power connectors. In all other cases there is one connector supplied and it is keyed to eliminate errors in installation. (See Figure 6-5B.)
Figure 6-5A shows the angle of the power cables relative to the connector. They have to be hooked over the connector, stood up vertically, and pressed down. This type of
Cases may or may not come with a digital readout indicator for system speed. You will find it quite an experience programming the readout to properly indicate the processor speed of your system. From a bank of options you must select the digits corresponding to your system's speed. This programs the threedigit readout. Jumpers are removed or connected to select the row and column associated with each number in the readout. The documentation is accurate for every case I have used, but the process is time-consuming
This type of case
from the scene due to its difficulty in programming. I recommend purchasing a case that does not have this feature because of the
connector reduces the possibility of the cables
annoyance associated with this task. Then, if you upgrade later and use the same case, you do not have to reacquaint yourself with this
accidentally becoming disconnected.
not already installed, install the
switch in the case. Pay particular attention to
an error might injure
Important: If there
as to the correctness of this step
vendor and ask for help. Refer to Figure 6-4 to see
return the case
motherboard in a case with no fold-down side. On the cases without a fold-down side, installation is similar, but somewhat more cumbersome than the fold-down style. Install the plastic standoffs and slide the motherboard into position, aligning the ground screw with the metal standoff. Screw the motherboard to the metal standoff. Exercise care not to
the motherboard while installing side.
in a case
motherboard in without hitting the hard drive and floppy disk installation bays. With this type of case— and many of the slide the
purchased computers have this type— it is more difficult to upgrade a motherboard. Often you are better off removing the hard disk or disks first, then removing and reinstalling the motherboard. If you have a choice, always purchase a case that has a removable or fold-down
of processor speeds currently this type of case obsolete.
Reinstall the fold-down case side and check the rear panel cutouts for alignment with the add-on card slots. You can loosen the ground screw and realign the motherboard for closer
by plugging in a card. Ensure that the mounting screw that holds the add-on card aligns properly and tighten down the motherboard. Double-check the tightness of all screws. This test ensures the motherboard will not accidentally short out if you plug in a card with the power on. Press lightly on each corner of the motherboard after it is installed. Ensure no portion of the motherboard contacts the case beneath it. If it does, you should install Test the alignment
without a fold-down
The range available makes
another standoff in the area. If there isn't a slide slot beneath the hole for a standoff on the motherboard, cut off the portion of the standoff that hooks under the slide slot and install the standoff in the board anyway. It will not hold the motherboard in position, but it will prevent the motherboard from
contacting the case accidentally. Refer to
Figure 6-6. When you install the motherboard, it will be elevated by this standoff and unable to short to the case in the
Figure 6-5A. Connecting
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
cables to the motherboard,
event you must plug in an add-on card with power applied. You are performing this operation because some add-on cards allow you to plug them in with power applied, though this is not the normal practice. Once the motherboard is installed in the case, the hardest part of this project is completed. Now let's install add-on cards. Installing the add-on cards is quite easy. Be the
certain you have observed polarity on all cables you connected to the add-on cards. If there is any doubt, consult the documentation or your supplier.
VIDEO CARD INSTALLATION If it
you are using an
slot. If it's
video card, place not an AGP card,
Figure 6-5B. Connecting power cables to the motherboard,
PCI slot closest to the power supply. Figure 6-7 shows the installation. Use care handling the video card. The RAM is sensitive to electrostatic shock. To prevent a damaging static discharge, ground place
your system has onboard IDE I/O, skip the next step (unless you are installing multiple hard disks and IDE CD-ROMS). If
yourself to the metal inside of the case once
before unpacking the video card. Do this by touching any bright metal surface inside the case, preferably the
power supply enclosure.
Refer to Figure 6-8 to see an Ethernet I/O card. This shows an EIDE I/O card being installed. The cables are already in place,
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
Figure 6-6: Plastic standoffs can be purchased
video card installed.
The only cable
to easily connect all the still
the hard drive
for the case will identify
two-conductor cable for you. To complete the EIDE I/O installation, install the rear panel add-in slot with the other two communication ports. Unless your motherboard fails you will probably never use these. This is permanently connected to one of the cables you attached to the EIDE I/O card earlier. Refer to Figure 6-10 for a quick look now. If you ever experience problems with a serial communications port on your system and you have one unused port, you can easily reconfigure your system to use the second I/O port supplied with this add-in card. The hardware jumpers covered in your documentation will show you how to easily swap the two ports so you do not have to reconfigure your software. It is much easier to reconfigure your hardware settings than to peruse and change each software setting affected. Some newer add-in IDE I/O cards, designed to replace defective onboard IDE I/O functions, have onboard BIOS that allows you to configure them automatically. The add-in card will query you during the first boot up after installation. You will answer questions about your hardware, and the add-in card will this
This add-in interface requires one unused
your computer. You should pick
position near the center of the case so the cables will be easy to route away from normal case airflow. Keep airflow through the case in mind when routing all cables, ensuring that fans are not blocked.
Some motherboards have a slot position dedicated for this I/O slide. It is the one with the CMOS battery situated directly in the path of a potential add-in card, making the slot useless for any other purpose. A basic computer requires only the add-on cards installed up to this point. Most people install a sound card, modem, and/or CD-ROM SCSI interface card as well. At this point, you have completed the installation of all add-in cards, the motherboard, RAM, and CPU. You have connected all cables to the installed PC boards, including the motherboard. You still have several cables hanging from the computer, and a small pile of hardware remaining to
If you haven't done so already, connect the IDE and I/O cables to the motherboard with an onboard IDE I/O interface. Your motherboard documentation will show you where they go. Install the I/O interface as Figure 6-10 depicts, and check the attached cables one more time while some parts not yet
installed are not in the way.
Figure 6-8. IDE I/O card installation.
Figure 6-10. The I/O interface rear panel slide.
Let's install the remaining
will start with the hard drive. Refer to
Figures 6-11 and 6-12 for installation and cable connections.
Configure the hard disk per instructions provided with it. Ensure the jumpers (shown in Figure 3-4 in Chapter 3) are properly set. The default is "single hard drive." If you have
multiple hard drives to
one up as master and one as slave using these jumpers. Make your boot drive the master. If you install a CD-ROM on this cable also, it's a slave drive.
hard disk in the lowest 3.5-inch into the bay until two holes align the case and the hard drive. Install the short Install the
bay. Slide in
BUILD, UPGRADE, AND REPAIR
screws that came with the hard drive. Any other screws may be too long and could damage the hard disk's printed circuit board. Install two screws on the other side of the case in a similar manner. Each hard drive should have four screws holding it in. Install the hard disk control cable from the IDE add-on card or motherboard as shown on Figure 6-12. Ensure that the polarity is correct. For multiple disk installations, a two-connector cable is available with two identical connectors
on the hard disk side so both drives can connect to the same cable. Be certain the master drive is the furthest from the end of the cable that connects to the IDE controller. Installing the floppy drive
Figure 6-13. The floppy drive.
installation of a 3.5-inch floppy drive
in a 5.25-inch
bay with a 5.25-inch adapter, I
because I installed multiple hard drives. For this reason I added an additional I/O card to support a total of six for hard disks
They show and the The cable end
Refer to Figures 6-13 and 6-14.
installation of a 3.5-inch floppy drive
cable that controls the drive.
furthest from the floppy control card or motherboard must be connected to the floppy disk is
a single floppy installation).
to assign drive letter
to the floppy
Figure 6-14. The floppy cable.
drive installed on that end of the cable.
you install a second floppy drive, use the remaining connector on the same cable. The If
second floppy drive will be assigned drive letter B. With the floppy and hard drives installed and configured, the remaining task is to install the CD-ROM drive. Review Figures 6-15 and 6-16 for details on CD-ROM installation. A typical IDE CD-ROM drive connects to the IDE interface through a cable identical to a hard-drive control cable. The cable connects to the secondary IDE interface in an EIDE system. If you do not have the EIDE interface, you must give up the slave hard disk drive position to install an
IDE CD-ROM. The CD-
ROM documentation gives an example. Many
users choose to install a
a CD-ROM drive. If both are IDE, install them on the slave secondary IDE port and configure
one as a slave. Refer to Figure 6-16 for slave jumper location on a CD-ROM. A SCSI CD-ROM requires a SCSI controller card or a SCSI sound card as an interface card.
instructions for this type of installation are detailed and are included with the purchase. Review the documentation for the interface card
The power cables
to the drives
but they are specified in the documentation for the hard drive, floppy drive, and CD-ROM drive. Confirm all the power connections have been made to these components. The power connectors come in two sizes, both plugging in only one way. With this task completed it is time to hook up the monitor,
provides the interconnect options from which
you must choose. The mouse connects
to the smallest of the
I/O connectors you installed on the rear panel. If you installed an IDE I/O card, it is normally the top connector on this card and has nine pins.
For future reference, this configuration on Coml
will default the mouse, as installed,
(the first serial I/O port). these.
The second one has
You have two
a 25-pin connector.
Both serial I/O ports can perform this function but, since a
mouse normally comes with
smaller nine-pin connector, it is usually installed on Coml. The monitor connects to the video card through the rear panel. Connect and screw down the interface cable from the monitor. If the monitor has a special power cable to connect to the case, install it now. Connect the speakers to the sound card. The sound card has an interface cable that you connected between the sound card and the
An IDE CD-ROM.
This interface cable, a small cable with three to four wires, transfers digital sound information from the CD-ROM to the sound card for processing into analog signals that will drive the speakers. You can see the connection point for the sound card in Figure
which is a rear view of the CD-ROM. Connect your printer to the printer port, if you have a printer. When you finish with this portion of the installation, you should have a system similar in appearance to the one 6-16,
keyboard, and mouse. If you have speakers for your CD-ROM drive and sound card, install them now as well. The speakers connect either to the onboard sound card jacks on the rear of
pictured in Figure 6-17.
the case or to your purchased sound card.
Connect the keyboard
round hole on
You can see the connector on the motherboard by looking into the lefthand side of the case. Advances in technology have left you with several keyboard and mouse installation options. The mouse can be USB or remote infrared using the IR port option. The keyboard can have any of three connectors, so match the mouse and keyboard connectors with your intended application. Use the motherboard as the determining factor, as it the rear of the case.
Most people that evaluated the original proof of this book suggested the following step-by-step approach. Though information specific to the particular components you your system may differ from these directions, the pictorial nature of this presentation is very comfortable for many first time computer assemblers. These components are desirable to most of the individuals I queried, so the pictures presented here are representative of the most common system select for
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
Figure 6-17. The completed system: Athalon 1800 +
Step 1 Prepare the motherboard as described
and shown in
next. Install the processor, heat sink,
cache fan as Figure 6-18 by pressing it down into the chip with your thumb and latching it. Install the by placing it into the keyed socket and forcing it against the spring locks into an upright position, as shown in Figure 6-19. The motherboard is now ready to fan. Install the
install into the case,
on the fold-down side
in Figure 6-20.
Step Two motherboard on the fold-down
Review Figure 6-20 for a backside view, which shows the plastic standoffs and the case case.
faster than anything sold.
Review the section on motherboard
installation earlier in this chapter.
Locate and install the IDE I/O cables to the motherboard, as shown in Figure 6-21. These cables are keyed, with pin 1 of both the cable and connector identified clearly. Ensure the cables are routed away from all fans and heat sources, such as the power supply and anything with a heat sink.
Connect the remaining case cables for the reset switch, speaker, HDD activity LED, and any other applicable cables now. Since the options vary between cases and motherboards, you must use the installation documentation supplied with both. Refer to Figure 6-22 for one installation example. If the documentation is not specific as to the proper polarity to observe with the power
Figure 6-18. Cache
DIMM RAM installation.
IDE I/O cable
Figure 6-22. The remaining case cables are installed
The fold-down case
Figure 6-23. Case slide installation.
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
LED and HDD LED,
do not worry. You can reverse them without damaging anything if they do not light when initially installed. After completion, the case side can be pushed back into normal position and secured with the screws previously removed. Refer to Figure 6-23 for specifics. Note: Before tightening
the mounting screws, ensure you are not pinching any wires as you reinstall the case side.
just finished the
portion of the component installation phase. The remaining items simply plug into the
motherboard or the
Step 3 Let's look at figures 6-24
through 6-28 to review the remaining hardware to be installed.
A premium sound
An AGP video
card being installed.
of the installation
Install the cards pictured
previously in the
motherboard slots corresponding to the bus type. The short connectors with the pins close together are the 64-bit PCI connectors. The
and usually nearest
typically different in to the
video card in the
Next, install the remaining cards— the Ethernet card, the additional I/O card, if required, the modem card, and the sound card. If possible, allow some space between the cards.
time to install the remaining hardware, such as hard disks, floppy disks, and CD-ROM drives. Study all
the cards installed,
the pictures in Steps
card being installed.
for the finer points.
Using the information in the beginning of chapter and this step-by-step method, you have just built your own computer. The sample systems pictured and described here are an Intel Celeron and an Athlon 1800+ computer with a full boat of accessories, including two printers and an this
started this book, the
Athalon-based computer had a mere 1,400
processor, but times change.
the computer you choose
Remember: anything the
are basically the same.
This concludes the installation portion.
Figure 6-26. External backup systems: tape, hard drive,
to the section
and the phone book turned to the fire department's number. (Just kidding!) You have to tell your computer something about the components you installed. The CMOS setup stores the information and uses it each time you turn on the computer. When you turn your computer on, check for any unacceptable signs, such as smoke, arcing noises, or flashes of light. If you see or hear anything that suggests a problem, shut the computer off and recheck all connections, including power cables and the power switch data,
Ethernet card has just been
installed in the lower
normal, press the required keys on the keyboard to enter setup mode. Often the computer screen will tell you connections.
The motherboard manual
will certainly give the information.
Figure 6-28. (from right to left) RW, two 3.5-inch floppies.
The next step is to power up and configure the computer as a complete system. You are about to turn on your new computer for the first time and enjoy the benefits of your substantial efforts.
STARTING YOUR SYSTEM FOR THE FIRST TIME Plug in the main power cable for your to both the wall socket and your computer. Have the following documentation handy: the motherboard manual turned to the section on CMOS setup, the hard drive manual
("When Things Go Wrong").
setup screen should come up. If it doesn't, and you get an error message about some configuration issue, refer to
Problems are discussed in detail so they can be quickly resolved. If you have a blank screen or the computer locks up during initial power up, repeat the process once. If you get the same results, jump quickly to Chapter 8 and we will analyze and fix the problem together. Once you are in CMOS setup, follow the motherboard documentation. Enter the date, time, hard drive information from the hard disk manual, and floppy disk size and type. Do not change anything in CMOS setup unless the documentation tells you to. We will optimize
configuration later in this chapter.
directions are fairly simple.
Follow them carefully, particularly when setting the hard disk's parameters. If you only have one floppy disk drive, make certain that you designate it as floppy drive A. (Note: CMOS setup is volatile, which means temporary. If the CMOS battery on the motherboard dies, the setup is lost. Make sure you write the CMOS setup down and keep it inside your case. A floppy disk label is a good place to write it. Stick the label
inside the case.
Hopefully you will never need the information again, but if you do, it will be handy.)
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
computer with a hard disk that has no information on it, there are two ways to get going. The first is the most common for users that do not wish to make a multiboot system. If you are not familiar with starting the
a multiboot system, please follow the first
will prepare the
on Windows 9X, NT, or 2K, the preferred way to set up a computer for home use. Turn on your computer. As it begins to start up, you will see a message that allows you to press a keyboard key to get into the BIOS setup program. It is usually the "delete" key. Press it after you are requested to do so.
When the BIOS menu appears, follow the on-screen instructions to allow the computer to recognize your hard drive and floppy drives. Set the hard drive parameters to AUTO for both the master and slave IDE ports, and select the proper floppy drive as well. Set the date and time.
Move your Exit
and save the setup parameters, then turn
bootable CD-ROM disk into the drive and turn on the computer. It will boot on the CD-ROM. Follow the directions to FDISK and FORMAT your hard drive, then install the operating system per the on-screen instructions. Install the remaining software as well. After installing your Windows software, remember to return to the BIOS setup and set your primary boot device as your hard disk.
You are off and running! The following method is the way
now, because you cannot install DOS yet since DOS does not recognize your hard drive.
When setup returns you to the A> prompt, type fdisk. This drops you into the fixed disk setup program. It is necessary to prepare any hard disk that has not been previously formatted in order to allow you to install software on the drive. The fdisk and format programs prepare the hard drive to accept data from you or your programs. The screen looks something like this: MS-DOS
Copyright Microsoft Corporation 1983, 1993
FDISK Options: Choose one of the following:
hard disk for the first time: With CMOS setup configured, reboot the system with a DOS boot disk. The Microsoft DOS boot disk has the necessary files to prepare your hard disk for use, but use DOS version 6.0 or later. The disk should have a label that says Disk 1 - setup. When you exit CMOS setup your computer will boot, or initialize, from the floppy disk. You will receive a message allowing you to continue installing DOS or exit. The exit key is the F3 function key on the keyboard. Press
partition or logical
2. Set active partition. 3. Delete partition or logical
4. Display partition information.
Change current fixed disk shows up only
Enter choice: Press
you have multiple hard
to return to
You must do two things to use your hard disk. Choose option 1 to create a DOS partition, then return to the menu and choose option 2 to
Fixed Disk Setup Program
your Windows 9X, 2K, or
advanced setup and select as the primary boot device.
the partition active. to
use the entire disk for
your hard disk into
several smaller logical drives,
to do so. If you partition your hard drive after you format your hard disk and install software, you will destroy installed software. Refer to your hard disk manual to investigate the benefits of partitioning before you move on. After you finish, press the ESC key to return to the A > prompt. You are ready to format your hard disk and create the boot block. High level formatting organizes the disk
manner that allows data stored and accessed. A FAT is
area into sections in a to be easily
created to index the stored data. Now, type format C: IS. This action high-level formats the hard drive C and transfers the system files to the hard drive.
The next time you boot up, you do so from the hard drive.
be able to Try this test. Remove the floppy boot disk and reboot your computer. To soft boot, hit the CTRL, ALT, and DEL keys simultaneously. Your hard disk should boot and you should have a message displayed asking for the date and time to be entered. This means your hard disk is successfully formatted and operational. Now, reboot with the floppy disk installed. will
you find any problems, check the
documentation on the programs involved. See if you might be doing something the program doesn't agree with. Look in the hardware documentation and be certain you are within the proper operational guidelines for the hardware involved. Glitches and conflicts are discussed and corrected in Chapter 8. Example 1: You are typing in a word processor and every time you hit the ENTER key, the text
Check the online help program or the software setup and look for auto-format Fix:
DOS according to the directions shown in DOS setup program. You are on your way!
options that are turned on. Example 2: You are trying out the sound
your software per the directions on the software package or documentation. It is
card software in Windows and something locks up the system, causing you have to
best to install software in the following order:
reboot to restore operation. Fix: Check to see if you installed the Windows sound card software before the DOS software. The DOS software may have modified
DOS. Microsoft Windows 9X, NT, Microsoft
your CONFIG.SYS and/or
and Windows applications.
confusing the Windows setup. Reinstall the Windows software for the sound card. Let the DOS programs have control over files,
AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS routines by installing all DOS programs first. the
WIN. INI and
Read your software documentation. Software documentation is typically very good where installation issues are concerned. If you have any problems with software, the product support staff will help. I have even received good help from the software vendors.
SYSTEM.INI files to run the DOS programs. Then, when Windows exits, it will restore the
THOROUGHLY TEST YOUR SYSTEM
you can, leave your computer on for at least 24 consecutive hours. This burn-in period allows hardware issues to surface. Ninety percent of all hardware failures occur within the first 24 hours of operation. It is unlikely that you will experience any problems, but if you perform this operation you can be confident that you have reduced the chance of an unexpected failure considerably.
The next few hours should be invested learning your system and checking for any from the speakers to you have installed. Document anything that seems unusual. Keep an error log of your first 48 operational hours on the computer. Note the programs involved, the hardware being used and the operations you are performing. Hopefully the log will be an empty sheet of paper but if not, you have a good starting glitches. Test everything,
modem, by running
point to resolve the conflicts.
the primary reason to
START A FOLDER
ON YOUR COMPUTER
documentation, receipts, and other paperwork associated with your system. If you Save
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
m* m% m»
• •• mmm* mm
mmm m a mmm* i
mm mm mmm mm
Figure 6-29. The
program and press the SHIFT and PRINT SCRN keys on the keyboard simultaneously. This will make a hard copy of your CMOS setup. Add this to your folder on your computer and keep it in a safe have a
printer, enter the setup
Figure 6-30. The case slide.
keep the documentation and receipts. Now, let's look at a significant performance upgrade. It's time to take a close look at the AMD Athalon XP 1800 + By any measurable standards, this is the best money can buy. to
place along with other important paperwork.
UPGRADING YOUR SYSTEM TO AN ATHALON XP 1800 +
The folder will help if you decide to upgrade because you will have all the information on your system in one place. Since you have documentation on everything you purchased, the folder is an excellent place
people involved with computers having a new system with that
Figure 6-31. The old Pentium
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
read about in the
computer magazines. Usually the super system
priced just out of reach, so we pass on the dream for now. Maybe next year... desire
have the dream system is to perform a competitive upgrade using most of the components in your existing system. Let's look at one of the things that must change. Review Figure 6-29, the ATX case, rear-view, with a slide-out motherboard mount. to
Figure 6-30 shows the case slide removed
Removal consists of separating the case from its cover, then removing the one from the
screw that retains the case slide. After doing so, lift up on the top of the case slide and pull rearward. It will come out easily. Now you have easy access for component installation. Now, lay the case slide down on your work area with the inside facing upward. Place your motherboard over the case slide on the metal standoffs, aligning each standoff with a hole in the motherboard. Attach the motherboard to the case slide with the included screws. If any standoff does not align with a hole in the motherboard, remove it to prevent the possibility of shorting the motherboard to the case. Assemble the cards onto the case slide and the motherboard as shown in Figure 6-31. If you have built a computer before, you remember how difficult this action was with the older cases, since installing the add-in cards had to occur inside the tight confines of
Figure 6-33. Cables and slides in position for cable connection.
Check to ensure that all add-in cards are properly seated in their slots and screwed down to the case slide. Confirm that both the RAM and Athalon CPU are seated tightly in their slots. Look once more to ensure that no possibility of a short exists between any component and the case. Now, set this assembly in a safe place and prepare to install your drives in the case. The next step is installing the casemounted drives, including the CD-ROM(s), the hard disk(s), and the floppy disk(s). Install them
same manner that the old case. Review
case in the
they were installed in Figure 6-32 for a sample installation.
Figure 6-34. Case slide in position to complete wiring.
components, including the power cables, while is uncluttered by the circuit boards and their cables. By now you realize that most of the difficulty in installation has been the case
eliminated by the
After connecting the cables to the drives,
place the case in the upright position, allowing the cables to hang freely. Figure 6-33 shows exactly
what you should
see during this step.
Place the case slide on the two tracks, and gently slide
forward, until the motherboard
power connector reaches the power supply good example. There are a few things to be aware of as
cable. Figure 6-34 is a
you continue. As you connect cables between the hard disks, floppy disks, and CD-ROMs, be absolutely certain that you observe the proper orientation of the cables to the connectors.
have a red mark on the cable triangular indentation on the connector
mark on both
the drive and the motherboard
connector designating pin
cable orientation will result in the
Failure to follow
motherboard or the drive.
peripherals and motherboards have
prevent plugging in the cables
incorrectly. Most CD-ROMs and a few newer motherboards share this safety feature. Also, be certain you do not place any cables on or near the power supply fan or the CPU fan. Fan failure is the primary reason for
microprocessor failure to date. Check all cables to ensure that there is no possibility they will impede airflow. If possible, tape or wire all cables to a secure place in the chassis to eliminate the possibility
of interaction with interruption.
any fan or airflow
will be glad
for the truth
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
because I had the Pentium 1.7 GHz blaster and she had my leftover Pentium 3, decided to ditch a day of work. Instead of running over to the local department store she visited the local computer parts vendors. Little did wife, forever in
She had my draft of this book, about $600, and the desire to make me suffer, so she brought home a brand new ATX case and an AGP video card, compliments of the salesperson who knew it would improve her video graphics performance by 100 percent. She wrapped up the package by purchasing an Athalon 1.4 GHz processor, 512 MB of DDR RAM, and the latest American-made motherboard. She had the system up and running in less than two hours. After she burned my tail in a total system benchmark contest, she showed me the system. She also duplicated the assembly at my request so I could document the process for your benefit. Figure 6-35 shows her completing the assembly process by installing the case slide after connecting the cables to the motherboard that control the drives and connecting cables between the sound card and the CD-ROM. She
wrapped up the process by installing the cover. Of course, the system booted perfectly since the new motherboard was PnP compatible and had an auto-detect function for configuring the hard drives and CD-ROMs. Figure 6-36 shows the completed system with the cover on, booting for the first time. Not bad for a couple hour's work! Please take note of the small label under her left hand in Figure 6-35. That's where she wrote the CMOS settings for her hard disk, in case the auto-detect feature in
configure her hard disk. The information she wrote down is on the hard disk, but invisible
Figure 6-35. Seeing
believing: final assembly
mouse, but any applications you have already installed that
before will be confused.
Now, let's look at some ways to speed up your computer. Note: CMOS setup parameters are normally preset very conservatively to allow the use of slower processors and RAM.
Performance Tricks Several performance improvement methods are available in your CMOS setup, however, care must be taken in each case. Thoroughly test your system after each change and return the system to default values if any problems arise. These tricks work only if you have a fast Pentium 4 or Athalon system. Implementing them on anything less will result in poor performance or lockup.
settings for each
computer vary considerably. These settings assume a minimum of a Pentium 4, 2 GHz, Athalon 1400 or Athalon XP 1800+ and can be improved somewhat with faster processors. ,
when the hard disk is installed. One other thing to remember when you do such a complete upgrade
modem, be certain that which com port the mouse is
you have an you take note
the row address
set to before
you disassemble the old system. Swapping the com ports between the mouse and modem will cause some annoyance in reconfiguring them. The computer will auto-detect the modem and
DRAM RAS Pulse Width: down from
in width. Set this
6 to 5 to increase speed.
DRAM RAS# Precharge time: Bump this down to 2. DRAM RAS to CAS Delay: Change to 2. DRAM R/W Burst Length: Change to IT.
On: Enables quicker
These settings are normally
conservatively by the manufacturers of the motherboards and can be set to faster positions, as we are doing, with the faster processors installed. The performance increase is
speed up hard-drive access time. Formatting the with NTFS, the NT File System, increases hard disk access speeds and reduces file and directory location times. This only works for NT-based software such as Windows NT, 2K, Millennium and XP. If these methods cause your computer to let's
experience unexpected problems, such as locking up or rebooting by itself, reset your BIOS parameters more conservatively before
adapter card with 64
a good, fast video-
caching software will turn a into the equivalent of a 100X or better without any hardware changes. The most important upgrade capability involves the processor, as prices of the faster processors steadily fall. That is the best time to
a processor-only upgrade.
You can have few hundred
today's $3,000 performance for dollars when the opportunity arises.
You have and saved
computer of your choice
bundle doing it. You have found and debugged the a
Chapter 8). You have even taken a look at hot-rodding your system without spending another dime.
looking at other reasons for the failures.
(or referring to
look into the future and get an idea of how we can upgrade the system we have, when the time comes. let's
UPGRADING OLDER COMPUTERS When
queried, most individuals would rather upgrade their existing computer than buy a new one. The reasons are varied as are their unique applications and needs. The two computers I presently have are hybrids of the numerous upgrades I have performed. Upgrading saves money— this is a fact. It gives you the performance of a new machine at a fraction of the cost. It's also a way to buy a new computer one piece at a time, allowing you to have a new computer without the immense bill normally associated with a purchase of that magnitude.
original title of this chapter
the actions of a friend.
was influenced by
a published expert in the
frequency synthesis and PLL digital communication techniques. He also proudly owns and uses a 386-40 ISA computer. This is the age of the Pentium 4, but he still clings tenaciously to the past. I have been leaving notes in his desk and e-mail with the message upgi'ade or perish. He pays me no mind and just pumps out another book or technical document. This leads me to the most important subject in this chapter: field of digital
upgrading older computers. Several options apply to upgrading older systems. The upgrade can be a simple memory increase, monitor upgrade, processor upgrade, motherboard and add-in card upgrade, or my favorite— empty the case and start over. 113
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
The most common upgrade
is the motherboard swap. Let's look at this upgrade step by step. It can be the easiest and quickest way to get light-speed performance from an outdated and slow computer.
THE MOTHERBOARD If you read Chapter 6, you know how very important it is to have your CMOS setup
information preserved. Imagine trying to read the setup information from an installed hard drive's top cover. Make a copy of your CMOS setup before you attempt any upgrades.
To access your CMOS setup, most computers have a startup message telling you which key to press to enter setup. The most common key is the Del key, followed by the Esc key.
setup information. If you don't have a printer, write down the information for the hard drive. You the shift
to print the
need the number of cylinders, heads, sectors, landing zone, and pre-comp data. If you know the mode information of your
hard drive, include it. Scan all areas of your CMOS setup for information on hard disks, CD-ROM devices and any other add-in devices, including pipeline cache and EDO
RAM or SDRAM.
reconnection. Use a permanent marker to avoid confusion when you disconnect these cables sometime later. Remove the rear panel screws that hold the cover on. They are located at each outside corner and in the top center on the rear panel of a desktop case. The typical tower cover has one screw in each outside corner on the rear
cases, designed for
those that like to tamper, have hand-tightened lugs instead of screws. The next step is documenting the cables
and connections have the manual
unnecessary. I recommend that first-time upgraders take a picture of the computer's interior in addition to documenting cable connection and placement. If you have the documentation on each add-in card and the motherboard, this level of care is unnecessary. If you don't take a picture, make a sketch of each card and cable's placement in the system. Mark the interior cables and connectors to ensure correct replacement when the job is complete. Mark the cable and the connector on the same side to ensure you do not install the cable backwards. I recommend leaving the cables connected to the hard drive, CD-ROM, tape drive, and floppy disk drives, if possible, and only disconnecting the opposite end of the cable.
the cables for front panel switches
and LED indicators. These can normally be traced back to the switch or indicator, so marking them may not be necessary. Remove the two power connectors on the motherboard, at the rear near the power supply. To be removed, they must be pulled up and angled toward the center of the motherboard. For clarification, refer to Figure 6-5 in Chapter 6 and read the material about connecting to the motherboard. (ATX cases have a single power connector that is keyed for safety.)
You are now ready
Shut off your computer and disconnect the power cables, monitor, keyboard, mouse and any other cables on the rear panel. Mark the cables and the connectors for future
motherboard. for the motherboard,
remove the add-in
the screws that hold in the cards. They are screwed in at the rear panel through the add-in card retainers. Ground yourself by touching the cover you removed. Place the add-in cards on this cover. Do not stack the cards on each other— it is possible to damage sensitive components that way. Find the one or two screws that retain and ground the motherboard. Remove them and slide the motherboard from the case. The plastic standoffs will come free of the case slides, and the motherboard can be removed and placed on the cover with the other cards. Some motherboards do not have plastic slides, but are attached to metal standoffs by screws. In this case, all the cards.
screws need to be removed. Make a mental note at this time to observe
the location of
the metal standoffs
motherboard; ensure that there is a hole in the motherboard for each metal standoff in the case. If not, remove each unused standoff by screwing it from the case installing the
Refer to the documentation that came with the new motherboard and ensure the default jumper positions are correct for your processor and memory and types. Compare the two motherboards at this time and determine where each cable removed from the original motherboard will connect to its replacement. Refer to the section in Chapter 6 on motherboard installation for further useful information.
Check the mounting configuration on the new motherboard. Transfer the plastic
new motherboard. Refer to Chapter 6 for the solution if one or more of the standoffs do not align with the case. Look at Figures 6-6 and 6-9 in Chapter 6. Transfer any RAM you intend to use onto the new motherboard. If you have upgraded to a much faster processor, like the Athalon standoffs to the
You should install RDRAM for the Pentium 4 and DDR RAM for the Athalon processor to receive the full benefit of this upgrade. The few dollars spent will be worth it. The documentation will tell you if you must install the RAM in a specific slot or bank. You are now ready to install the new 1800+ or a Pentium
disregard this step.
in the case.
Install the motherboard by reversing the procedure you used to remove the original. Connect the power cables first, making certain the black wires are alongside each other at the inside of the two connectors. If you incorrectly install these connectors, the black wires will be on the outside, and turning on the computer will send the motherboard to PC heaven. Uses the motherboard documentation to place the remaining cables in their correct position and then install the video card and all
other add-in cards. If
I/O functions, do not install your existing I/O card. This
the card that
and the extra hard I/O add-in rear panel slide. Figure 3-2 in Chapter 3 shows the card. Instead, refer to the disk, the floppy disk,
motherboard documentation and install the cable from the hard and floppy drives, then the I/O rear panel slide to the motherboard.
components are now hooked disconnected from Reconnect everything up. the back panel and replace the cover. Never turn on anything plugged into the wall socket All internal
with the cover removed.
motherboard powered up for the first time must have the CMOS configuration information updated. Using the motherboard documentation, turn the computer on and start the
setup routine. Type in the date, time, information concerning the
and all CMOS hard and floppy drives, and CD-ROM if required. Use auto-detect functions for the hard drive and CD-ROM drives for simplicity, if
available in standard
Exit the setup routine
and allow the
computer to reboot. Pat yourself on the back, and then go to the bank with the hundreds of dollars you just saved. Some people upgrade the video card to an AGP type when they upgrade their motherboard. I always install the motherboard first and then get the other goodies later. This allows me to thoroughly evaluate the motherboard alone and then check out the other parts later. It is no fun to do a complete upgrade and then have one bad part hang up the system. Always keep your older components for a while, in case you need to use them as troubleshooting aids sell
to a less fortunate friend.
Run your new motherboard overnight burn
anything is going to fail, it will probably do so in the first 24 to 48 hours of operation. Do a thorough test of your computer after 48 hours to ensure you have a functional system. After performing these operations, you will know the project it
was successful. Now, let's discuss why anyone would want to
upgrade a perfectly operational computer.
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
Occasionally upgrades are forced upon us. mine bought a version of Microsoft Office that slowed down his computer tremendously. Why? The program requires 64 MB of to run effectively, and his computer only had 64 of installed. A quick trek to the computer store and a modest purchase fixed his problem. He now has 128 MB of and a much faster For example, a friend of
machine as well. Another example: A client of mine likes multimedia packages. She bought a high-end computer game with embedded video clips, but hated the horrible performance. The video was jerky and unrealistic. She had invested a bundle on a six-CD game she couldn't play. The reason it was unacceptable was that she had a single-speed CD-ROM drive, which is good enough for data transfer but not fast enough for good, smooth video performance. Again, the solution was an easy upgrade she performed herself. The 52X CD-ROM drive she installed cost her very little money and 20 minutes of her time. I have built many hundreds of computers, ranging from DEC workstations and Tektronix information display systems in my years with Tektronix, to the faster Pentium 4 and Athalon
machines my clients occasionally require. I have noted the primary reason a computer becomes obsolete to the user is a change in software requirements. This forces many good computers into a premature burial. When is a computer obsolete? I've learned that a computer that fills its required purpose is never obsolete. If you never have the desire or need to upgrade your software, you may never want to upgrade your computer. Why do software programmers write programs that have high hardware requirements? The primary reason is that programmers aim their software at the fastest computers available. They fear mortality. The faster machines show off the programs better than slow ones, and the programmers have more flexibility writing programs for faster machines. More memory in a computer
programmer has even more with his program code. All
programmers write code
for the best
machines available so their hard work doesn't become obsolete in a few years. It is hard to write programs with high levels of functionality for slow machines with small amounts of memory. The limitation of speed makes many visually oriented programs, such as Windows 9X and most multimedia programs, run slowly or not at all. Most programs today must grab the user's attention and keep it, so they must be visually oriented and interact with the user. And, of course, programs like these consume memory. These reasons make programmers constantly strive for speed and functionality in their programming. If you plan on upgrading or replacing your current system, be certain you are doing it for fastest
the right reason. Upgrading or replacing a
system that performs to your requirements may not be a good idea, particularly if increased speed is not a concern. Save your money until your system fails to meet your requirements and a real need arises. Do not succumb to advertising literature telling you that you must have the latest and greatest software update unless you actually need the improvements the upgrade offers.
TO UPGRADE OR REPLACE When
deciding between upgrading your system or replacing it entirely, consider the following items: •
How old is your monitor? If is a 17-inch SVGA monitor, it is worth saving. A 17inch SVGA non-interlaced monitor is it
worth between $100 and $150. •
If it is
2 or older, the expense of replacing the motherboard, all the add-in cards, and the memory will probably justify replacing the case and everything in
You can some of the
your Pentium 2
monitor, you might
Generally, replace a Pentium 2 or older
the monitor is not a 17-inch SVGA non-interlaced monitor. The older monitors fall short in high-quality, visually oriented programs. The add-in cards will have to be upgraded to PCI or AGP to work in a new Pentium 4, Athalon 1400 or faster motherboard. This makes upgrading and replacing similar in price, assuming you plan to build the new system instead of buying a new one.
If you have an upgradeable Athalon or Pentium 4 motherboard, you probably also have a SVGA monitor. You can upgrade this system by replacing the processor alone and get performance improvements of twice the speed or better. The price of a fast Athalon processor is around $120, and $260 buys you the fastest Pentium 4 processor available today. I would suggest getting an Athalon processor and motherboard. Then you only have to add a $50 video card and you have a complete fast system. The IDE I/O function is built in. What this means is a complete
upgrade (less RAM) will cost around $200, and your system will beat a comparable Pentium in performance and speed significantly. In the decision to upgrade or replace, consider the age of the components in your
you can live with a slight improvement in performance, upgrade the system.
motherboard and use the slower existing addin cards from your original system. Obviously, for a few dollars more you can make the jump to light speed and be obsolescence worry free for a while.
you want the full performance of an AGP/PCI system, it will be as cheap to buy a new case and build this system inside it.
PROCESSOR OR MOTHERBOARD-RELATED UPGRADES For some reason, most people shy away from upgrading the CPU. I find it the easiest and most beneficial upgrade you can perform. The CPU is a drop-in upgrade for most of the newer motherboards. This upgrade starts with a quick perusal of your motherboard documentation. Verify which processors your motherboard supports and confirm the location of which jumpers, if any, you must move.
To upgrade a Pentium microprocessorbased motherboard, determine if its BIOS supports the Pentium 4 and Celeron processor line. If it does, you can upgrade to beyond Pentium 3 speed. If not, you may have to be satisfied with a little more than doubling your system performance. Upgrading a Pentium 4 system is similar to upgrading a Celeron machine, though you have more options. The Athalon processor upgrades clobber a comparable Pentium processor's speed. Of course, the faster Pentium processors are drop-in upgrades to most Pentium motherboards. To upgrade to Athalon requires a new motherboard and RAM. Another drop-in performance improvement is DDR RAM for the Athalon and
Pentium 4, which will buy you 30 to 35 percent improvement in overall speed. The speed difference is significant, as for the
both of these types of RAM can transfer data on either edge of a clock pulse, making them twice as fast, minus latency and a few other things too hard to spell.
the Athalon upgrade in Chapter 6?
your old system for more than you will pay for the new case and the loaded motherboard. The price of the case is the only addition to the price of buying new versus upgrading. I am assuming you will use the same floppy and hard drives. Now, let's look into upgrading systems that are less than two years old.
HARDWARE IMPROVEMENTS ON NEWER COMPUTERS
Generally, everything you can add to a computer gets faster with time and technical evolution. The improvement in video adapter cards is significant in departments other than speed. You can upgrade to hardware MPEG video movie support with the replacement of your existing video card. Watch the ads. The price of this upgrade
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
drives are constantly increasing
sooner did I find a good deal on a 32X drive than the 48X drives hit the market. I just test-drove a 52X recently. It is noteworthy to mention that I saw no difference in performance between my 48X and the 42X I evaluated, but software is currently being developed that will use the in speed.
increase in speed.
sound cards are out in force, many gaming people have coded some extremely realistic games and multimedia programs that use the improvements. The sound card has come a long way and an upgrade of this nature will give some people an extreme rush. Live sound Since the
with surround-sound and full Dolby are commonplace. Most programs, however, do not make use of the improvements. Read all of the documentation regarding hardware and other requirements to make certain you will gain measurable performance.
do you upgrade your software, and why? I have been asked this question many times. I upgrade when the newer version fixes a bug I wish to get rid of, or when new software offers something I can't live without. The only other time I will upgrade is if the
operating system I am using becomes obsolete. An example is DOS version 3 or earlier. Most DOS software requires DOS 4 or newer, and prefers DOS 5 or 6. You have to keep software for more than five years to run into a problem like this. Upgrading software is an expensive process if you have 60 GB of software like me. Upgrade only if there is value to you in the result. Remember, if you keep upgrading
most inexpensive way
keep your computer current, if that is what you wish. I need to be on top of the current high end of computer technology since I work with many people who need the latest in performance. I have not purchased a new computer since 1994, yet two of my computers are state of the art.
most of what is removed from my computer as I upgrade. Every year or so, I put everything I have removed into a new case and build a system. I install the software I no longer use on it and transfer the software licenses to the person who buys the system. I refer the buyer to a local vendor who buys and sells equipment, and the person buys an SVGA monitor for $110 and a keyboard and mouse pair for $15. They have a computer and I have the money. This action accomplishes two things— it keeps me from becoming a pack rat and it reduces my upgrade costs. I found out that my Pentium 3 cost me about $600 after I subtracted revenue from selling the old stuff. The Pentium 3 had two 3.5-inch floppies, two 20-GB hard drives, a 5-GB tape backup sell
software, sooner or later you must upgrade your computer. It's a never-ending cycle.
drive, a flatbed color
wife just turned that computer into an XP 1800+ with a gig of RAM, a DVD
A CD-RW, the same two floppies, and GB hard drive for less than $300 after
recorder, a 100
Pentium stuff and the CD-ROM. As you can see, upgrading is the most inexpensive way to get a new machine if your existing computer is fairly new. If you have a very old machine, I recommend selling it and applying the money toward parts for the new system. (Be advised that computer software licenses must stay with the original software disks and you cannot sell copies of your software. You give up the right to use any selling the
Go Wrong COMMON CONFLICT AREAS Hopefully you have a successfully operating machine and you are reading this chapter for information only. Maybe you are intending to help an unfortunate friend ferret out a few bugs in his computer. But if you and Murphy are good friends, we know why you are here. Murphy's Law says if something can possibly go wrong, it will. He is right. Occasionally, I will come across his magic working in a friend's computer and sometimes it finds a way into mine. I have seen a number of configuration issues in my time and have read numerous books and articles on these issues. These are the most common problems and ways to deal with them.
DMA CONFLICTS DMA
channels and see who uses what. Remember from the introductory chapter that many add-in cards require direct memory access channels and no two items in the computer can share the Let's look at the
same address. •
This signal line is internal to the motherboard and is used to refresh memory. There is no conflict possibility with this line. 0:
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
This line is available and primarily used by sound cards. You may have a conflict here if you default install a sound card and then install a SCSI adapter for a
scanner or other host device. This
must also be unique between hardware add-on components. lines
or the keyboard
This line is available and is the primary choice for many Sound Blastercompatible sound cards. I found out the hard way that some IEEE controller cards and network cards use this line as a
Available for sound cards and SCSI adapters. It is 16-bit stereo sound compatible. Watch for conflicts between sound cards and SCSI cards. 6: Available for Sound Blastercompatible sound cards. 5:
cards and SCSI adapters. •
to the •
quite a bit of flexibility in setting
DMA channels. Remember that up DMA channels, you need to
when you set
add-on cards with the least amount of flexibility first. The least flexibility normally can be found on any 8-bit card and many network cards. Make a point to set up AGP and PCI cards last, and be certain to configure all manually configurable cards before installing and configuring PnP add-on cards. If you have any conflicts attributable to settings, the information presented here should fix the problem.
lines. Let's take a look.
from the introduction
that interrupt request
Watch for conflicts if backward compatible
to talk to the processor.
normally assigned to COM2 and COM4. Some older 8-bit network cards came with this setting as the default. This is a conflict in most systems and requires you to reconfigure the network card. IRQ 4: This line is normally assigned to COM1 and COM3. As with IRQ 3, this line can be configured on sound cards, network cards, and modems, so be aware of the
This line was originally set up for a second parallel printer port. It is commonly used for sound cards, but most other devices can be set to this line. A tape drive may wind up being set to this line, particularly if it has a tape drive 5:
accelerator card. •
Often someone will use it for a tape drive or sound card if concurrent floppy drive use never occurs. This can be a this line.
conflict area in
a sound card
IRQ CONFLICTS You have control over which device uses
cause problems with
(Use this line for network cards. It is not an ideal choice for 16-bit stereo sound cards and may rob the card of stereo performance. Some systems assign this line
This is the controller line. It unavailable in most machines for other
your video adapter
this line is available.
often uses this
0: The system timer uses this line. It only available for the motherboard's use. If any conflicts are reported here, there is a problem with the motherboard. IRQ 1: This line is for the keyboard's use.
The signal is available for the keyboard and motherboard only. The motherboard
drive simultaneously. •
for the floppy disk
piggyback a tape drive here. Occasional conflicts occur if you try to use a tape drive and floppy drives to share.
to this line.
parallel printer port.
The primary use
for this line is the
Watch out printing
WHEN THINGS GO WRONG
and configure any items whose default
Input/output devices require unique addresses to operate; two devices with the same address will not operate properly. The following list shows the addresses occupied by most add-in cards and resident operations. These address schemes are the most common utilizations and give you an idea of
default set to this line.
sound cards or
this line for
are utilized elsewhere.
the network card
Any error associated with means, of course, shoot the
motherboard. IRQ 14: This
system, it is an ideal setting for a SCSI hard disk controller. IRQ 15: The primary IDE hard disk controller lives here. As with IRQ 14, you may do anything with this line if onboard
Conflicts found here
DMA and IRQ settings
2F8h: Assigned as a default to
300h: Warning: Steer clear of this setting if you use Windows 95. Sometimes used for network cards, Windows 95 uses this address and causes conflicts with any devices set to this address.
320h: This is a common network card setting. Avoid it if you have a SCSI adapter
be an indication of defective components, but 99 percent of all conflicts are in the setup of the add-in cards or
setting is the common Sound Blaster addressing. With IRQ 5, this address is
the default setting for the secondary printer port. 280h: This is a common choice for network, IEEE, and occasionally SCSI adapter cards. 2A0h: This is a common choice for network, IEEE, and occasionally SCSI adapter cards. 2E8h: Assigned as a default to COM4, as is
cover most of the
bits of information
controller functions are not
conflicts seen in the
130h: SCSI controller add-in cards often use this address. 140h: SCSI controller add-in cards often use this address. 220h: Sound Blaster emulation on compatible cards uses this address. This is the default setting for the real Sound
you have no IDE hard disk or adapter present in your
Blaster sound card. •
disk controller line.
The numeric processor operation
to clear addressing conflicts. addresses are in hexadecimal notation.
add-on card use. 13:
this will solve
any setup problems.
you have network and SCSI cards installed. IRQ 12: This is the default line for the onboard PS/2 mouse. Most computers do not use this type of mouse, so this line is available for network, sound, or any other
IRQ 11: SCSI cards often come set to this number. Multiple SCSI adapters may
attempt to share this port with another add-on card. IRQ 8: Your motherboard uses this line for the real time clock. If something reports an error with this line, you must shoot the motherboard, i.e., return it to the vendor. (Note: the CMOS uses this line also. System information programs report this line as "CMOS and real time clock. ") IRQ 9: Since this line shares with IRQ 2, it is a high-priority line. A high-speed network card will scream when set to this IRQ. Many 16-bit network cards are
require the use of this line and others.
330h: This is a common choice for network, IEEE, and occasionally SCSI adapter cards.
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
340h: This is a common choice for network, IEEE, and occasionally SCSI
for operation at another address, be sure
edit the net.cfg file in your
adapter cards. 360h: Warning: Network cards set to this
your root directory on the drive your
address will conflict with your primary printer port, unless you change the printer default from 378h. 378h: This is the default primary printer
computer boots from, normally the C drive. If you use Windows 9X, you must go to the control panel and change the resource configuration under either the Windows 9X
network or System icons.
3BCh: This is a good alternate setting if you must move the primary printer port address default setting. 3E8h: This address is assigned to as
Occasionally, you will find intermittent or sporadic behavior. Be certain you check addresses for conflicts if any of these devices are inoperative or intermittent. The addresses normally are not a problem in systems with
Here's a problem I found in Windows 95 during the initial installation on a network
machine. Remember the note about address 300h I mentioned earlier in this chapter? Yes, Murphy is alive and well. Things to avoid when installing Windows 95 on a network
up your computer
correctly and are starting a
your network card is set to address 300h, reset it to either 340h or 280h. Avoid address 320h, since a SCSI device installed now or later at address 330h will screw up the system. Avoid address 360h, to eliminate a conflict possibility caused by a parallel If
port interface installed address 378h.
or later at
BACK TO HOME USE
3F8h: This address as
the changed address. You will find this
few conflicts will occur. In BIOS, set the PnP aware flag. It is worded differently in each motherboard BIOS, but will say something like: "Plug and Play Aware O/S" and the options will be "yes" or "no."
the BIOS to initialize PnP cards for boot purposes only. The affected cards will be any SCSI adapters, video adapters, and IDE/I/O cards and adapters necessary to display and control functions absolutely necessary for boot purposes. When Windows 9X, NT, 2K, Millennium, or XP starts, the remaining cards and software will be allowed to grab the necessary resources required. This is the best way to eliminate conflicts before they can occur.
Most conflicts in a home computer come from sound card installation or configuration issues. To determine if your sound card is causing the headaches you are experiencing, remove it from your system. If the system works, the sound card was the culprit. If your sound card is giving you fits, here's how to find out why. The sound card is a resource hog. It needs three of your resources: channel, an IRQ line, and a unique a
under Windows 95
automatic, and you will not realize you have a conflict unless
after installation. If
you are missing the
you simply cannot access the network, you may have this
type of conflict. If you have to reconfigure a network card
install the software for
should create a record of these
settings in your Windows SYSTEM.INI file. You will see a DOS record of the information in a line in your CONFIG.SYS file, too. Here
some examples. Config.sys entry:
WHEN THINGS GO WRONG
DEVICEHIGH = C:\PASTUDIO\MVSOUND.SY S D:6
This Pro Audio driver shows the
set to 7, emulation information.
and Sound Blaster
this picture? First
a conflict? Absolutely not!
This card, like many other sound cards, is completely software configurable. The nice thing about software configurability
the capability of different
on the card
for different operating
systems. This actually reduces conflicts, since
different operating systems have different resources available.
What does this mean? If your DOS settings cause problems in Windows, set the sound card to another or IRQ setting in the
when exiting Windows. sound card you must
you have a configure with jumpers, be certain your If
configuration specified by the jumpers.
UPGRADE HEADACHES Some or
conflicts occur after upgrading
component and the
others, try a different
to try a different setting
differ. Is this
If you between one
satisfy the conflict
occurs is to remove the item by using the system resource tools shown in Figure 8-1. Figure 8-2 shows a clean screen with no
What's wrong with
not work with other brands.
brand. This nearly always works. The best
[mvproaud] dma = 7 irq = 7
components available out there, of occasionally one manufacturer's component
may to 6, the
motherboard and PCI video card may not like some of the older cards you transfer from your old motherboard. Generally, upgrades go flawlessly. Try to isolate the questionable device or add-on card causing the conflict. If you are upgrading, you have a replacement for each new part. Try swapping in the original parts
find the offending component, if
IRQ, With the myriad
try different configurations for
and I/O address,
mouse the Logitech Marble USB
installer did not "turn off" the original
before installing mouse, and now he has two mice installed in the hardware configuration, causing a conflict and probably no mouse capabilities. Now the fix: first, navigate through "my computer" to "control panel" and through "system" to show the system properties. Select the "hardware" button, then "device manager." Select the offending mouse button, the one with the red "X," and select "remove" from the options list. Reboot, and the correct mouse drivers will be correctly and automatically installed. If they are not, have the installation drivers handy and select the hardware conflict troubleshooter. Install the driver using the onscreen instructions. These instructions are for Windows 9X, NT, 2K, Millennium, and XP. The screens will vary slightly, but the basic path is the same.
important to remember that a motherboard with onboard IDE I/O will not accept installation of an add-on IDE I/O card with the same DMA, IRQ, or I/O address settings. The default settings for both are the same. Never install an additional IDE I/O card It
the defaults differently.
the only reason to install an IDE I/O card in your computer is if the function on the motherboard is either additional
obsolete or defective.
until the conflict is resolved.
Figure 8-1 shows the hardware conflict screen. Note that the mouse shows up twice in this instance because a standard mouse was upgraded to a mouse that uses a USB port. The
Some video rid of
work well with
cards do not
certain brands of I/O card.
will have to get
one of the two. Of course,
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
Figure 8-1. The resource screen showing a conflict.
motherboard has onboard IDE I/O functions, the problem is already solved. Remember that a PCI motherboard with onboard IDE I/O needs only a video card to run. When upgrading, start with only the one card installed, then add the others one at a time. You will find the offending component quickly. Now, let's examine problems with new systems.
systems have their share of problems, but not as many as older computers. With the enhanced bus and additional 32-bit extended configuration additions, there are considerably
and many more configuration
Most conflicts in new systems occur due to more than one device sharing the same DMA, IRQ, or I/O setting. Confirming the default settings do not conflict and ensuring that
components are configured properly with the default settings easily remedies these conflicts.
computer doesn't initialize? If all portions of Chapter 6 are followed, this is the least frequently occurring problem. Common causes for a computer not starting are unseated RAM, unseated add-in cards, and configuration BIOS not set properly. Confirm that all RAM is seated properly. Remove and reinstall each RAM SIMM or if
the cards for proper seating.
you have onboard IDE I/O, confirm the plug-in cables are seated properly and If
Try to boot up again. If this doesn't work, remove all add-in cards except the video card on motherboards with onboard IDE I/O. Leave the IDE I/O card installed on those motherboards without this option.
programs make This
to these files.
newly installed program
********************************* * * Overall Performance Index
invoked. To initialize it, just type MSD anywhere in your computer and it will work if a path to your DOS directory is spelled out in your AUTOEXEC.BAT file. You can perform searches for subjects and files from MSD and print out about 15 pages of detailed system information, including your is
AUTOEXEC.BAT, CONFIG.SYS, WIN. INI, and
SYSTEM.INI files. available in MS-DOS and
versions The graph below shows the speed of your system (CPU, memory, and motherboard), compared to the speed of other systems for running common 32-bit applications. For example, a typical 90-MHz Pentium system is 20 4 times faster than a typical 1 6-MHz 386SX system for these types of applications.
The Norton Peter
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
Norton put together a
suite of diagnostic routines that
dominates the market for superior and easy-to-use diagnostics. Both Windows 9X and Windows 2K are supported. Figure 9-2 shows benchmarks using Norton Figures 9-3 and 9-4 complete the look at Norton Utilities benchmarking. Utilities.
Now, let's look at the Windows 9X version of the same test. The Windows 9X version
a 32-bit program your computer's use 32-bit code. The
performance will be different than that presented by a 16bit test program, even the 16bit version of Norton Utilities
Figure 9-3. Pentium 200
The graph below shows the speed of your system (CPU, memory and motherboard), compared to the speed of other systems for running common 32-bit applications. For example, a typical 90-MHz Pentium system is 20.4 times faster than a typical 1 6-MHz 386SX system for these types of applications.
representative of the type of
becoming computer available as software experts become
proficient at 32-bit
Programmers who use 32-bit programming have
flexibility, since the
programs run very current machines
the computer's operating system Figure 9-4. Pentium supports them. Examples of 32-bit operating systems are Windows 9X (a hybrid incorporating both 16and 32-bit code), OS-2 WARP, Windows NT, Windows 2K, Millennium, and Windows XP all
which are all
straight 32-bit code.
programs available today are Windows 9X compatible and written in 32-bit code. It is refreshing to note the previous benchmarks and test data that once was the Virtually
benchmark, SDRAM, on Norton.
standard for measurement and analysis of the PC. As you read further, note the migration of both the diagnostic software and the
performance improvements of the hardware being tested.
take a look at the current state
comes to benchmarking programs. Norton and the other programs mentioned have the handle on protecting, of the art
addition to system information and benchmark testing, the Norton utility In
hensive data protection. In Windows 9X, you can protect the trashcan from being accidentally emptied, which has saved many important files from destruction. The image
program creates an exact duplicate of your table in case the
hard disk area
becomes damaged. The speed disk program arranges files and directories in beneath
contiguous order, so fewer disk
revolutions are required to store and retrieve data. There Figure 9-5. Benchmarks for and speed.
Pentium Processors, moderate
other features but
you discover them
Norton Disk Doctor is a I cannot do without. I'm constantly screwing up my system,
though not intentionally. Trying
some new and exciting global commands, I hang up even the most stable environments. Can
for the fastest currently available processors.
and correcting problems, but the following examples of benchmarks have exclusive dominion over actual performance variances between computer types. diagnosing,
look at the faster processors currently offered by and Intel. The benchmarks are a composite of the combined performance of the processor combined with the fastest possible components available to support that processor and motherboard combination. let's
you say fatal disk error? Both Diskfix and Unerase have bailed me out of trouble when I tried something new and different to save time. I invariably find a way to hang my system with open folders, which creates nasty things
called widows and orphans. Norton Utilities has restored my disk integrity, and sanity, on each occasion. The most informative program, Ndiags, provides information on your CPU, memory, DMA, IRQ, and CMOS information. This information is necessary if you plan to upgrade
your system. Let's not forget the Norton Rescue Disk. When you install Norton Utilities, you have the capability of creating a rescue disk
on a bootable
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
you to boot your system even if you damage the data on it. The Norton Utilities package is available from Symantec Corporation < www.symantec.com > floppy. This will allow
PC TOOLS you need extensive and comprehensive utilities, this is the program you want. You can find and fix hard disk boot records and If
partitions, lost clusters
archive tables. Like Norton
Utilities, this lets
program alone is worth the price. It also comprehensively and repeatedly tests your computer while you sleep. What if you find something wrong and don't know what to do next? QAPlus Windows version allows you to connect via modem to their electronic technical support center. You can electronically compose and send a test report. You will be notified by DiagSoft about how to alleviate the pain associated with a of this
Tools has an extensive virus scan and
cleanup program that supports identification of more than 1,000 viruses. It can be updated online by subscription, like Norton Antivirus, so it is extremely useful in the very sensitive business environment. PC Tools and Central Point Software have merged with Symantec, the creator of the Norton Utility package. Central Point Software can be reached through < www.symantec.com > .
PC911 Normally considered a companion to First Aid for Windows Users, this program tracks all changes to PC configuration files. Found at
, it offers a lowcost alternative to some of the expensive utility programs previously mentioned.
series of products
by selecting DiagSoft, the manufacturer.
memory manager from Quarterdeck
in the early
more sophisticated memory use. Embedded a
system information program
Quarterdeck Office Systems has several good utility programs on the market, including Sidebar and Internet Suite. The entire package is a cost-effective and realistic support group for anyone interested in keeping their computer in top shape. Quarterdeck programs are available from local retailers or the
Discount Computer < www.cdw.com >
Another writer once told me QAInfo is the most comprehensive source of PC configuration information. Along with QAPlus, it has been known as a technician's tool rather than a home computer jockey's workhorse.
performs basic analysis of file structure and analyzes the disk surface. If it finds disk surface errors, it can move the data to a safe
part of the disk.
This Microsoft diagnostic tool for
hard disks and floppies.
Hardware manufacturers often seek DiagSoft's expertise in software rather than investing their resources. This makes DiagSoft's programmers among the best at diagnostic programs. DiagSoft's programs cover
more hardware than any program
QAPlus This program runs diagnostics and burns in your computer for you. The burn-in portion
Research developed a program that can actually read and recover data that DOS thinks is gone forever. This inexpensive program is a must. Its use in a DOS environment is
unquestionably the best for finding, moving,
information utility is simple and fun to use and provides comprehensive information.
The Troubleshooter AllMicro has an inexpensive diagnostic program that allows you to bypass your computer's normal boot routine. It thoroughly tests all hardware and allows you to print the results. If you have software conflicts you can eliminate the hardware as the cause with this program.
What's-In-That-Box Napier has created the ultimate PC tutor. He describes entertainingly the intricate goings on inside the case of your computer. More of an educational tool than a utility, this program gives the user an enjoyable trip through the inner workings of a PC. The program is available on CompuServe, just GO PCFF. Jeff
WinSleuth program, available
TUNING AND OPTIMIZATION
SYSCHK This shareware program, available from < www.syschk.com > is an easy-to-use diagnostic program for the beginner and
onto the existing configuration file. Make certain you rename the saved file the same as
Second, review the performance tricks at the end of Chapter 6. Utilize any that apply to your system and expect some increased speed and flexibility from your system.
Third, run memmaker, a DOS-based program, to increase the available DOS (or at
the tests the big
at a fraction of the cost.
WinProbe The Landmark makes
you have purchased any one of the good diagnostic programs mentioned, you have the necessary tools to keep your computer in top operating shape. Here are a few tips on how to do what is necessary. First, create backup copies of your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files. Use the technique mentioned in Chapter 8. Do the same with your WIN. INI and SYSTEM.INI files. Again, Chapter 8 gives real-life examples for you to follow. Write down the names of the backup files and keep them in a safe place. This will allow you to get moving again if a new program adds a conflicting line to any of your configuration files. To recover from a problem affecting any configuration file, just copy the saved backup If
Windows programs. your diagnostic program program of your choosing) to perform a disk optimization on your hard disk. Select the option that allows you to optimize directories first and files second. This way, when your computer tells the hard drive to find Finally, utilize
Company the burn-in
program I like best. You can select as many tests as you like and run them as many times as you like. This program is tops in the documentation department, and many companies like the technician form printout with the diagnostic information and a signature block. These programs are but a small sample of what is available, mentioned because I have experienced them or had positive input from other users. You must select the programs that suit you best. When you find one that suits you, expend the money to keep it current by upgrading and you will have a friend for life.
programs, they are in one contiguous track or series of tracks.
Optimization takes the pieces of files scattered over the disk surface and places them in sequential order on your hard drive. This means the hard drive travels a smaller distance to load programs into memory for utilization by the computer. Obviously, this saves time and wear and tear on your harddisk assembly. It also cleans up fragmented files and returns your computer to optimal operating performance. Optimize your hard drive several times a year.
You Will Need When I prepared quotes on computer systems for this book several weeks ago, the going price for 128 MB of RAM was $18. I could get it for around $15, but I did not believe it would be fair to quote prices not easily available. Today I found an advertisement in one of the magazines
listed in this
chapter with a price for 128 100 DIMM for less than $10. Not believing
checked out some of my local component vendors. Sure enough, their advertising
the reduction in price,
literature indicated similar reductions in price.
one certainty in computer and component
prices: They always go down.
This chapter is devoted to where the home computing industry is going and how you and I will be affected, both as consumers and proficient upgrade specialists. If you are reading this chapter, I'll bet you know more about building and upgrading computers than 99.9 percent of the other consumers. My wild guesses are based on trends I have observed and hardware I have gotten my hands on. Some of these factors are good indications of the future in home computing. We are in for an E-ticket ride if I am even
on my predictions. Most of the advances
affecting computers will occur
You can expect increased functionality from printers, fax machines, and modems. Other improvements will occur in motherboard technology as even faster bus speeds and microprocessors become available. in the peripheral devices.
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
Speaking of microprocessors, expect sneakier processing schemes. For example, the
Pentium Pro (Intel's boy wonder) uses a trick to change x86 (or complex instructions) into reduced instruction sets. RISC sets can be run in parallel. This makes the Pentium Pro a RISC microprocessor after all, even though externally it looks like a CISC CPU. The Pentium 3 and 4 have the best of both! Complex instruction set microprocessors are the type you already are familiar with. They include everything from the Pentium 4 on down to the 286. The section of Chapter 1 on motherboards gives a detailed description of the differences
between CISC and RISC
processors and systems.
by external bus speed, commonly called the motherboard clock speed. Look for vast improvements here to get the most out of the faster processors. Example: A Pentium 4, 2 GHz processor sitting on a 100 MHz bus performs no better than a Pentium 4, 1.5 GHz
bus or CPU clock. For the short term, rather than change motherboard architecture most CPUs will probably increase internal cache size. The Pentium 4 has the L2, or secondary cache, built into the chip already, which is one reason it is so fast. The new Pentium microprocessors from Intel have already doubled the Pentium's internal cache size from that of a year or so ago. The trace cache has already increased to six times the size of the Pentium 3. Let's examine some of these future processor using a 133
I've mentioned the addition of technology to the Pentium line, but what it
MMX added which
a set of additional instructions
to the existing Pentium's instruction set, is
designed to accelerate operations that
commonly occur during multimedia tasks. What this means from the computer user standpoint
a considerable increase in speed
and data throughput
in these areas.
The benefits from these instructions go beyond the games and presentation graphics normally thought of as unused by the casual
many programs use calculations commonly thought of as multimedia-related. Some of the tasks that will see the 50 to
user, since so
100 percent improvement are MPEG video, speech recognition, modem conferencing, all audio processing, and both 2-D and 3-D image processing. The casual user with an office suite will see
improvement, as will the heavy game player. Some of the updated programs, such as Microsoft Office and Macromedia Director, will provide eight times significant
the execution speed with this processor update.
The coming year will see Intel and other microprocessor developers refine
technology to their entire product line. Intel is already incorporating technology in the
developers are already taking advantage of the additional instruction sets in
programs and all new releases. Last year I got my first look at an experimental CD-ROM drive that can read existing
was about twice
the size of the existing CD-ROM drive, two 5.25-inch bays in a tower-style
why? CDROM drives exist that can handle six or more CD-ROM disks. The access time is at least 52X case.
on the ones double-sided I
have used. This system makes a
disk unnecessary, or so
real reason for research into double-
not just for reading
the disks, but also for writing to them.
the drives rapidly approaching the access times of some hard disks, it is only a matter of time before a double-sided CD-ROM writer replaces your floppy or hard disk. With CDROM writer media at or below the cost of a tape cartridge, the CD-R will become the
standard for backup systems. Do you really need a floppy disk in this case? I think not. The drive I looked at had a different method of data storage than conventional CDROM drives. A typical drive reads data in one continuous track, starting at the inside of the CD and spiraling outward; this one-track recording method was not utilized in the new
OTHER THINGS YOU WILL NEED
The new drive stored data exactly
hard disk, in concentric tracks. Obviously, this type of CD-ROM drive is not intended to replace the existing type, just as VHS never intended to replace BETA. The real future in CD-ROM technology is limited by laser color. The higher frequency of
can be used, the closer together the data can be packed. This is because a higher frequency of light has a smaller wavelength. Samsung has a green laser that can store more than 100 minutes of MPEG video on one side light that
you are counting, that is about five times the current amount. The blue laser currently being worked on will more than double that storage to about 3 GB for the green laser and more than 6 GB for of a laser disk. If
laser disk drives
have onboard cache
speed up access times. Look for larger
caches, probably in the 100- to
few years. A CD-ROM with a large cache will be faster than a hard disk performing the same operations. By now you know color laser printers are available. They are extremely expensive currently, but so were color ink-jet printers in the next
got one. Soon, color laser printers will
be in the $500 range or less. (I have a special gift. I will go out and buy something when I think the price has bottomed out, only to have it drop 50 percent in price as I walk to the car with my new purchase. People hire me to buy things so they can get a good price after I
make my purchase. And threatening to
a color laser printer.)
improvement in the next Since the advent and increasing
area slated for vast
year or so.
popularity of cable and DSL, modems running at 10 Mbps, the 56K bps modems are rapidly approaching obsolescence. Internet cable will obsolete them unless something even faster does. For those unfamiliar with ISDN, the integrated services digital network is the digital alternative to your analog phone line. It replaces your analog phone line and modem with a digital system. Though the two copper
wires coming out the back of your computer look not unlike standard phone cables, they are capable of up to 1 megabit transmission rates with 8:1 compression. Many phone lines are already ISDN compatible since Ma Bell has been so influential in bringing out and supporting ISDN-ready cables. If your area is compatible, the only costs are a one-time setup fee (refunded after two years) and the modem.
Your that can
for the really fast alternative.
computer has an interface in it probably communicate at 300K to 644K
per second. It is your parallel printer port. The next generation of communications packages will make use of this port and your cable network. Parallel communication over video channels is being experimented with today, and serial communication over satellite is available already with 10 megabit speed. Expect communications speeds in the 100 MB per second rate soon. Note the emphasis
remember, uses multiple lines to transfer data, so you can multiply existing speeds by at least a factor of eight.
Other communications breakthroughs to expect are digital cellular phones with modems embedded in notebook computers. Expect to be able to rent a system like this at airports when you pick up your rental car. No reason to buy if you only use the thing when traveling or on vacation. Look for portable computers like this to continue to shrink in size considerably and to run on smaller batteries. CPU speeds will not be the fastest on such a system, but power consumption will be minimized. As speech recognition becomes more commonplace, the need for a keyboard will be lessened. My wife talks to her computer all the time and it does exactly what she tells it to do, just like me.
The Chinese proverb "If you tell me, I will you show me, I will see. /If you let me
experience, I will learn." describes the importance of VRML (virtual reality modeling language) in the standardization of 3-D simulations for use on the Internet. As modem
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
speeds increase, the Internet will become a
installation to be 3
This, of course,
bedridden and homebound students. Interactive training already exists on CD-ROM. In the "what will they come up with next" department, I want to talk a bit about the DVD player. This system, primarily designed for video playback, has found its way into the in instruction of
players will be double-sided and doublelayered, similar to a floppy disk drive's architecture. They will be able to copy a disk on the fly, as you are viewing it. The transfer rates have to be at least 3.3 meg per second to provide the 24X performance specified. This drive, unlike the one I mentioned previously, will be compatible with existing CD-ROM technology. The players have been available since 1997 at about $300 and recorders are now available. Motherboard innovations are coming up to speed. I read an advertisement recently about a dual Pentium 4 motherboard with 1 MB of cache. It had onboard RAID hard-disk control included. The motherboard price, without either
Motherboard bus speed significantly in the next
more speed from
how do you
bus interconnections. They are proven in highspeed analog computers, and some special purpose single-board computers used in industrial applications. This will require expensive retooling and innovative bus design, but will be necessary to break the 3 GHz barrier for
Back to the price of RAM. This single element of your computer will become a turning point
the price descends significantly.
RAM installations in RAM installations today
computers. Typical are 128 and 256 MB.
expect a typical
These are a few predictions based on what have seen. I know based on past performance that it will always be much cheaper to build your own computer and perform your own upgrades. Some things I
never change. lists
available with advertisements on computer parts and accessories. You will also find a list of free magazines. Be sure you enhance your
on the questionnaire in order to ensure a free subscription. A list of catalogs that provide computer parts and accessories wraps up this chapter. Please review the notes on the next page regarding Internet connection speeds and performance. Let's talk a bit about Internet connection speeds. Please review the following chart for an indication of connection speeds compared to the 56K modem speed of 54K bits per second (bps). Pricing is another story. It is safe to say that networking pricing is one of the most variable things going on in the world today. The two most common methods of interconnection with full authorization, are qualifications
priced as follows:
processors will force the issue, but get
by the end
Following this page are
(digital versatile disks) will
to hold about 17
continue to decline.
usually connection is Modem 19.95/month and cable access with full
permission is typically $39.95 if you have your own cable modem and Ethernet card, and $49.95 otherwise.
a bit differently.
Unlimited dial-up usually costs $ 14.95/month. Home DSL runs $49. 95/month, while business DSL is $99. 95/month. A usage-based T1 line goes for $ 100/month. Wireless megabit DSL is going for $250/month, and a dedicated T1 line can cost up to $850/month. Needless to say, the cost of the entire computer could pale considerably when measured against the high cost for light speed
INTERNET CONNECTION SPEED COMPARISON CHART Speed
Technology Dial-up Access
Twisted pair (regular
Available throughout most of the U.S. Cheap but slow compared with other technologies. Speed
64K bps 128K bps
Dedicated telephone line
and router required.
Not available throughout the U.S. but becoming more widespread.
line costs slightly
than a regular telephone
512K bps 52K bps
Coaxial cable; in for
the unused digital portion
Twisted pair (used as adigital,
of a regular copper telephone line to transmit
Mbps per second but can only send data at 64K bps. A special modem and adapter card are required. at 6 to 8
Access is gained by connection to a high speed
existing cable access in area. Cost of bringing service into an area and trenching cable can be prohibitive. Networkable.
Doesn't interfere with normal telephone use. Bandwidth is dedicated, not shared as with cable. Bandwidth is affected by the distance from the network hubs.
Must be within 5 km (3.1 miles) of telephone company switch. Limited availability across the U.S. Only available at a few urban regions at present. Not networkable.
some Must have
cases telephone lines
of line noise.
Airwaves. Requires outside antenna.
cellular like local multi-point
communications system (LMCS) network via wireless
Still in the early test stages. In theory it's capable of super speeds of 10 Mbps or more. Can be used for high speed data,
TV and wireless telephone service.
The computer sends request for information to an ISP via normal phone
Airwaves. Requires outside antenna.
which could lead to integrated TV and Internet service using the same equipment and WebTV-like integrated Services. Service is one-way with a slow
returned via high rooftop dish, which relays it to the computer via a decoder box.
Fractional T1 (Flexible DS1)
Only a portion
64K bps to 1.544
May cost less
Twisted-pair or coaxial cable
Cheaper than a full T1 line with growth options of 56K bps or 64K bps increments as required.
Typically used for high bandwidth
line is actually used.
Special lines and
equipment (DSU/CSU and router) required.
Typically used for ISP
or optical fiber
as videoconferencing and heavy graphic file transfers. Many large businesses and ISP use Tl. Expensive.
to Internet infrastructure.
Typically used for ISP
to Internet infrastructure
within Internet infrastructure.
Typically used for large
company backbone Internet backbone.
than ISDN in some locations. Limited availability across the U.S.
channels available in a
uplink speed. Requires an Internet service account. Phone line is busy while online.
Provides a type of 56K bps "party line" connection to to 1.544 the Internet. Requires a FRAD (Frame Relay Access Device) similar to a
Bandwidth is not shared. Satellite companies are set to join the fray soon,
large bandwidth. Extremely expensive and complex.
COMPUTER MAGAZINES CD-ROM Here is a list of magazines that cater to the computer-oriented individual. There are many others,
you read several of
462 Danbury Rd. Wilton, CT 06897-2126
Audio Forum 96 Broad Street Guilford, CT 06437 Black Box Corp. P.O. Box 12800 Pittsburgh, PA 15241
Compute! P.O. Box 3245 Harlan, IA 51593-2424 ComputerCraft 76 N. Broadway Hicksville, NJ 11801-9962
Computer Currents Byte Magazine P.O. Box 558 Hightstown, N] 08520
Computer Graphics World P.O. Box 122
CD-I World P.O. Box 1358
Multimedia 720 Sycamore Street Columbus, IN 47201
CD-ROM Today Box 51478
5720 Hollis Street CA 94608
Computer Pictures Montage Publishing,
701 Winchester Ave. White Plains, NY 10604
Computer Shopper P.O. Box 51020 Boulder,
BUILD, UPGRADE, AND REPAIR
Computer World P.O. Box 2044 Marion,
718 University Avenue, Suite 112 Los Gatos, CA 95030-9958
Mt. Morris, IL 61054-7902
Micro Publishing 21150 Hawthorne Boulevard #104 Torrance, CA 90503
Desktop Video World P.O. Box 594
Magazine Box 50047
Microcomputer Journal Classified Department 76 N. Broadway Hicksville,
Video Magazine P.O. Box 594 Mt. Morris, IL 61054-7902
Micro Times Magazine 5951 Canning Street Oakland, CA 94609
High Color Box 1347
and Studio Recording
Music Maker Pub. 7318 Topanga Cyn Boulevard, Suite 200 Canoga Park, CA 91303
P.O. Box 4520 Medford, OR 97501
Nuts and Volts 430 Princeland Court Corona, CA 91719-1343
Open Computing P.O.
Hightstown, NJ 08520-9328
Office Computing Box 51344
PC Magazine Imaging Magazine 1265 Industrial Highway Southampton, PA 18966
PC Novice Insight Direct, Inc. 1912 W. 4*h Street
Tempe, AZ 85281
PC Today Box 85380
10675 Treena Street, Suite 103 San Diego, CA 92131
PC World Magazine Internet P.O.
Mt. Morris, IL 61054-9965
PRE8340 Mission Road, Number 106 Prairie Village, KS 66206
462 Danbury Road Wilton, CT 06897-2126
PO. Box 51966
Sentry Publishing Co. 1900 W. Park Drive 01581-3907 Westborough,
Video Magazine PO. Box 56293 Boulder, CO 80322-6293
Videomaker Magazine PO. Box 469026 Escondido,
Communications News 2504 Tamiami Trail N. Nokomis, FL 34275 Communications Week P.O. Box 2070 Manhasset, NY 11030
Voice Processing Magazine
PO. Box 6016 Duluth,
Computer Design P.O. Box 3466 Tulsa,
Windows Magazine PO. Box 58649
Computer Products P.O. Box 14000 Dover, NJ 07801-9990
MAGAZINES THAT ARE FREE TO QUALIFIED SUBSCRIBERS Advanced Imaging 445 Broad Hollow Road Melville,
Computer Reseller News P.O. Box 2040 Manhasset,
Computer System News 600 Community Drive
Automatic ID News PO. Box 6158 55806-9870 Duluth,
and Presentation Technology 701 Winchester Avenue White Plains, NY 10604
Beyond Computing 1133 Westchester Avenue White Plains, NY 10604
Computer Tech. Review 924 Westwood Blvd. #65
Computer Telephony Box 40706 Nashville, TN 37204-9919 P.O.
Data Communications P.O. Box 477 Hightstown, NJ 08520-9362
PO. Box 70735 Pasadena,
Designfax P.O. Box 1151 Skokie, IL 60076-9917
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
Document Management & Windows Imaging 8711
Pinnacle Peak Road, # 249
Lasers and Optronics
301 Gibraltar Drive Morris Plains, NJ 07950
EE Product News PO. Box 12982 Overland Park, KS 66212
Machine Design PO. Box 985015
Managing Office Technology 1100 Superior Avenue
PO. Box 985007 Cleveland, OH 44198-5007 Electronic Mfg.
PO. Box 159 Libertyville, IL
Clark Street Chicago, IL 60605-9960 650
PO. Box 985061 Cleveland, OH 44198 Federal
PO. Box 602 Winchester,
Manufacturing Systems PO. Box 3008 Wheaton, IL 60189-9972 Medical Equipment Designer 29100 Aurora Road, Number 200 Cleveland, OH 44139
Micro Publishing News 21150 Hawthorne Boulevard, #104 Torrance, CA 90503 Mini-Micro Systems PO. Box 5051 Denver, CO 80217-9872
2640 N. Halsted Street Chicago, IL 60614-9962
ID Systems PO. Box 874 Peterborough,
Imaging Business Phillips Business Info PO. Box 61130 20897-5915 Potomac,
InfoWorld PO. Box 1172 Skokie, IL
PO. Box 57268 Boulder,
1100 Superior Avenue Cleveland, OH 44197-8032 Mr.
PO. Box 1087 Winter Garden, FL 34787
Network World 161 Worcester Road Framingham, MA 01701
LAN Times 122 E. 1700 S. Provo, UT 84606
Network Computing P.O. Box 1095 Skokie, IL 60076-9662
600 Harrison Street San Francisco, CA 94107
Box 601 Morris Plains, NJ, 07950
Media Magazine P.O. Box 1771 Riverton, NJ 08077-7331
6255 Barfield Road Atlanta, GA 30328-9988
P.O. Box 3116 Woburn, MA 01888-9878
301 Gibraltar Drive Morris Plains, NJ 07950
Office Systems Dealer
Software Magazine Westborough Office Park 1900 W. Park Drive
Box 2281 Woburn, MA 01888-9873 P.O.
PC Week Box 1770 Riverton, NJ 08077-7370 P.O.
Sun Expert P.O. Box 5274 Pittsfield,
Photo Business 1515 Broadway
The Programmer's Shop 5 Pond Park Road Hingham, MA 02043-9845 Quality P.O. Box 3002 Wheaton, IL 60189-9929
STACKS Box 5031 Brentwood, TN 37024-5031 Skokie, IL 60076-9662
RESOURCES ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB
AST Astro Research
www. amibios. com www.award.com
www.firmware.com Mr. Bios (Microid Research) www.mrbios.com Phoenix www.ptltd.com Micro Firmware
UMC VIA Tech VLSI
www.intel.com www.opti.com www.sis.com.tw
www.umc.com.tw www.via.com.tw www.vlsi.com
AMS Apache Apple
Appro Apricot Aris
www.acer.com www.acorn.com.uk www.alr.com www.amiga.de www.amsnote.com www.apache.com www.apple.com www.appro.com www.apricot.com.uk www.aris.com.sg
www. Compaq .com
Daystar Digital Data General Datalux
Dolch Encore Epson Everex
www.aspsys.com www.ast.com www.astronote.com www.axil.com
HAL HP IBM Integrix
www.dg.com www.datalux.com www.dell.com
www.dec.com www.dolch.com www.encore.com www.epson.com www.everex.com www.gw2k.com www.hal.com www.hp.com www.pc.ibm.com www.integrix.com www.intergraph.com
www.magitronic.com www.mei.micron.com www.mitsuba.com www.nec.com www.next.com
BUILD, UPGRADE, AND REPAIR
NCR New Media
Packard Bell Panasonic
www.packardbell.com www.panasonic.com www.polywell.com
Power Computing Pyramid
www.powercc.com www.pyramid.com www.rdi.com www.ross.com www. Samsung com www.sequent.com www.sgi.com
Sequent Silicon Graphics
Promise Qlogic Specialix
Symbios Tandy Tekram
Swan Technologies Tadpole
www. tandy. com
www.tera.com www.toshiba.com www.win.net/xi_comp
Toshiba XI Zenith
Atronics Berkshire Buslogic
CMD Comtrol Crestor
www.acecad.com ACT Lab Advanced Input Advanced Gravis Alps Electric
www.eden.com www. advansys. com www.advantech.com www.megaraid.com www.atronicsintl.com
www.berkprod.com www.buslogic.com www.byterunner.com www.cent-tech.com
www.cmd.com www.comtrol.com www.crestor.com
DataHand Systems Datalux Eurgonics Evergreen Exos
Jag Tech Kernel
www.infotrend.com.tw www.initio.com www.itwill.com
www.calcomp.com www.casco.com www.cfx.com.au
www.chicony.com www.cybernet.com www.datahand.com www.datalux.com
www. eurgonics. com www.trackballs.com
www.exos.com www.gefen.com www.genius-kye.com
www.actlab.com www.advanced-input.com www.gravis.com www. alpusa .com www.btc.com.tw
www.tekram.com www.genroco.com www.tyan.com www.winbond.com.tw www.zworld.com
Gefen Genius Genovation
www. datatechnology. com www. zstarr. com/dynatek/
www. contour des. com
www. chproducts. com
Chicony Contour Cybernet
www. cyclades. com
www.mylex.com www.ncr.com www.newmediacorp.com
Input Devices Acecad
Casco Controllers and I/O Adaptec
Advance Storage Advansys Advantech
Gyration Interlink Electronics
Keytronic Kurta Left-Handed
www. genovation com .
www.glidepoint.com www.theglove.com www.gyration.com www.infogrip.com www.interlinkelec.com www.clearlight.com
www. micr osoft .com
www.microspeed.com www.mitsumi.com www.unipac-usa.com www.mousesystems.com www.mousetrak.com
Microspeed Mitsumi Mouse Burger Mouse Systems Mouse Trak
NMB No Hands Mouse Polytel
Tandy Texas Ind. Periph
www. sysgration com www. support tandy. com WAArw.ikey.com aatww. thrustmaster. com
www.usar.com wrww.mbws.com wTww.wacom.com www.cpgs.com
Memory Centron Century Cypress Dallas
Hyundai IDT Jaton Kingston
Memtron Micro Memory Micron Memory Newer Technology Nutek
www.rambus. com www.minden.com www.simpletech.com
Rambus Simm Expander Simple Technology
www. sony. com
www. analog .com
Cyrix Evergreen Tech
www.idt.com www.intel.com \AWW.ibm.com AAWW.mot.com
www. nexgen com
SGS-Thomson Texas Instruments
AAww.qedinc.com AAww.st.com wAAw.ti.com
www. zilog com
www.am-group.com www.summagraphics.com www.supermouse.com www.symmedia.com
www.mutoh.com www.nmbtech.com www.paleltec.com www.polytel.com www.primax.nl www.sejin.com www.sicos.com www.spacetec.com www.spec-research.com
Summagraphics Supermouse Sym Media
Spec Research Star Trak
Modems and FAX Ace ex Aetherworks
Amquest Anchor Apex Data
WAAw.amquest.com AAWw.anchor.nl WAAw.warrior.com
Angia Archtek Askey
aatww. askey. com .
AT&T www.centron.com AAWW.century.micro.com
www.cypress.com www.dalsemi.com www.hsinlin.com.tw
www.hea.com www.idt.com AATww.jaton.com
AAWW.memtron.com www. micromemory, com AAww.micron.com
WAAW.paradyne.att.com Banksia Best Data
Boca Research Cardinal
Comcorp Communicate Creatix
WAAW.bestdata.com AATww.bocaresearch.com wAAW.cardtech.com
www. com2 1 com .
AAww.comcorp.com.au www.commuicate.co.uk AAWW.creatix.com AAWW.digicomsys.com
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
www.e-tech.com www.expnet.com www.gammalink.com www.hwgavi.com www.genoasys.com www.hayes.com
EXP Gammalink Gavi
Konexx Logicode Maestro Max Link
www.logicode.com www.maestro.com.au www.askey.com
www.maxcorp.com www.megahertz.com www.kct.com www.mot.com
Min Motorola Multitech
www.newcominc.com www. novalinktech com
Olitech Practical Peripherals
Dacom www.psiondacom.com Quantum Data Systems www.quantum.co.uk Psion
Smart Line Spectrum
TDK Telindus Trust
Wisecom Zentech Zoltrix
CTX Daewo Datalux
Daytek DIGIview Dotronix
EDL EIZO Hitachi
MAG Magnavox Maxtech Miro Mitac
www.wisecominc.com www.zentech.com www.xoltrix.com
www. digi vew. com www.dotronix.com www.edldisplays.com www.eizo.co.jp
www.hea.com www.pc.ibm.com www.iiyama.com www.kdsusa.com www.maginnovision.com
www. magnavox. com www. maxcorp com .
www.miro.com www.mitac.com www.mela-itg.com
No Rad Pacom
www. daewo-display. com
www. traveller, com
www.rockwell.com www.rsacode.com www.imete.it.com www.sprectumsignal.com
JVC Samsung Sceptre
Sony Tandy Tatung Taxan ViewSonic Visionmaster Wen Technology
www.nokia.com www.noradcorp.com www.pacomdata.com www.panasonic.com www.philips.com www. portrtrait .com
www.prgr.com www.radius.com www.jvc.com www.sec.samsung.co.kr
www. sony. com www. support tandy. com www. tatung com tw .
Monitors Acer Acula
www.acula.com www.adi.com.tw www.aocltd.com www.artmedia.com www.ast.com
www. abit com tw
www.airwebs.com www.megatrends.com www.deltanet.com
www.arvida.ca www.asustek.asus.com.tw www.biostar.net
Edom Epox FIC Free Tech (Pride)
www.ipctechinc.com w ww.j azzmm .com
www.mtiusa.com www.Ocean-usa.com www.oceanhk.com www.pcchips.com
Koss Labtec Logicode MediaVision Mediatrix Minolta
Octek Pc Chips
www. qdigrp .com
QDI See Thru
www. spacewalker. com
Soyo SuperMicro Tyan
www. tyan .com www.vextrec.com www.zida.com
3DO 8x8 Acer
www. minolta com .
www.3d0.com www.8x8.com Systems www.ads-mm.com
www.kontron.com www.koss.com www.labec.com www.logicode.com www.mediavis.com www.mediatrix.com
Mitsumi www. mitsumi com Multimedia Labs 220.127.116.11 Multiwave www. multi wave .com Nakamichi www.nakamichicdrom.com
Nikon NSM Jukebox
www.h45.com www.hitachi.com www.hsinlin.com.tw www.infs.com
www.connectix.com www.coreco.com www.creaf.com www.teleport.com www.difusa.com
megastar, kamtronic. com
www. impact com
Megastar (TMC) Micronics
www.giga-byte.com www.intel.com www.iwill.com.tw
Chromatic Research Connectix Coreco Creative Labs Crystal Lake
www.boffin.com www.btc.com.tw www.casio-usa.com
www.calgraph.com www.bdcc-nl.com www. dataexpert .com www.dfiusa.com www.ecs.com.tw www.netindex.com
Animation Technologies www.lifeview.com.tw
www. nsmj ukebox. com www. nur eality. com www.oceanusa.com www.oceanhk.com www.olympus.co.jp www.opti.com www.panasonic.com www.philips.com www.pioneer.co.uk
Plasmon Play Inc Plexor
Sony SRS Labs Star Multimedia Taiwan Multimedia Tandy Teac Teac
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
www.plasmon.com www.play.com www.plexor.com www.poloroid.com www.primax.nl www.reveal.com www.rolandus.com www.sec.samsung.co.kr www.platinumsound.com www.sicresource.com
com tandy. com
support www.teac.co.jp .
www.teac.com www.terratec.com www.toshiba.com www.trust.box.nl
www.tbeach.com www.ecusa.com www.vinemicros.com www.asiabiz.com.sg
Alcatel Allied Telesyn
AMP Apple Asante Ascend
Banyan Systems Bay Networks Black Box Boca Research Cabletron
www.agile.com www.and.alcatel.com www.allied-telesyn.cm
www. amp .com www.apple.com www.asante.com www.ascend.com www.att.com www.axis.se
www.banyan.com www.baynetworks.com www.blackbox.com www.bocaresearch.com www. ctron .com
www. canary net com .
www. cayman com .
Cnet Cogent Data Compatible
Compex Connectware Cray Crosscom Cybex
Danpex Dayna Develcon
www.cisco.com www.cnet.com.tw www.cogentdata.com www.compatible.com
www.cpx.com www.conectware.com www.cray.com www.crosscom.com www.cybex.com www.danpex.com www.dayna.com www.develcon.com www. dchip com .
www.dlink.com www.dlink.com www.dgiprod.com
www. datatechnology. com
Dynatech Edimax Efficient Networks
www. eicon com www. ethercom com
Ethercom Equinox Eversys
www. 3com .com
Extended Systems Farallon
Systems Gandalf Global Village
Grand Junction Hewlett Packard
Interphase Intel Jolt
Katron (KTI) Kentrox Klever
LANart Lantronix Linksys
www. extendsy s. com www.farallon.com
www. global village, com www.grandjunction.com
www.hp.com www.ibm.com www.icl.com
www. imcnetworks. com www.interlan.com www.iphase.com www.intel.com www.jolt.co.il
www.ktinet.com www.kentrox.com www.klever.com
www. lanart com .
Luxcom Madge Microcom
www.madge.com www.microcom.com www.mcdy.com
www.microplex.com www.gus.com www.morningstar.com www.multitech.com www.nbase.com www.netcorp.com www.netedge.com www.npix.com www.networth.com www.newbridge.com
Microplex Mitron Star
Nbase NetCorp Net Edge Network Peripherals Networth Newbridge
www.nhc.com www. novell com www.ods.com www. olicom com
Optical Data Systems
Olicom OST SA
www.plexcom.com www.proteon.com www.puredata.com
Racore Raritan Retix
Rockwell Shiva Sonic Systems
www.longshin.com.tw www. luxcom .com
www.racal.com www.racore.com www.raritan.com www.retix.com www.rns.rockwell.com www.shiva.com www.sonicsys.com
SMC Spider Stallion
www.smc.com www. spider, com www.stallion.com
www.xedia.com www.xircom.com www.xlnt.com
www. xyl an c om
www.calcomp.com www.usa.canon.com www.citizen-america.com
GCC Genicom Hewlett Packard
NEC OKI Okidata Olivetti Lexicon
Sharp Star Micronics
www. transition com
www.ub.com www.webstercc.com www.whitetree.com www.whittaker.com
www.micromcomp.com www. mutoh com .
www.syskonnect.de www.telebit.com www.telindus.com www.tci.com
Webster Whitetree Whittaker
www.genicom.com www.hp.com www.can.ibm.com www.jrl.com
www.dpc.com www.encad.com www.epsom.com
www. costar, com
Colorocs CoStar Dataproducts
Tandem Tandy Tektronix Texas Instruments Zerox
www. olive ttilolexicon com .
www.qms.com www.ricohcorp.com www.samsung.com.kr www.cgg.seiko.com www.sharp-usa.com www.starmicronics.com www.talaris.com
www.tandem.com www. support tandy. com www.tek.com .
Scanners 3Dscanners Adara
AND REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER
www.3dscanners.com www.adara.com www.agfa.com www.artecusa.com www.astronote.com
AGFA Artec Astro Research Avision Labs
Hewlett Packard Hewlett Packard FTP
ftp-boi. external. HP.com
www. ibm com .
McAfee FTP Microsoft
www.bti-ok.com www.bellhowell.com www.blackwidow.co.uk www.envisions.com
ftp.mcafee.com www. micro soft com ftp.novell.com
www.symantec.com www.winsite.com www.ziff.com
Mustek Nikon Paktek Panasonic Plustek Polaroid
Ricoh SunRise Imaging
www. mteklab. com www. mustek com .
www.paktek.com www.Panasonic.com www.plustek.com www.polaroid.com www.primax.nl www.relisys.com
www. ricohcorp com www. sunriseimg com .
www. atronicsintl com
Conner Cutting Edge
CRU Digi-Data Disctec
Borland Cnet Sorftare Library
www. Conner, com www. cuttedge. com www.cruinc.com www.digidata.com www.disctec.com
www. 3com com www.adobe.com www.apple.com
Apple Autodesk FTP Banyan Banyan FTP
www.boxhill.com www.cent-tech.com www.ciprrico.com
www.amdahl.com www.andataco.com www.apstech.com www.artecon.com
www.eurologic.com www.exabyte.com www.filetek.com
www.compuserve.com www.dec.com ftp
www.fwb.com www.h45.com www.hitchi.com
www.hp.com www.almaden.ibm.com www.Intek.net
Maxtor Megadrive Micro Hut
www. maxtor. com www. megadrive, com
www.microhut.com www.micronet.com www.microp.com
MTI Optical Access
Optima Technology Panasonic Pinnacle
Procom Reveal Ricoh
www. mindflight .com
www.optimatech.com www.panasonic.com www.pinnaclemicro.com
Tandberg Tandy Tecmar
tongky.sec. Samsung. co. kr
www. mmmg com .
Western Digital Winchester Xyratek
www.stortek.com www.syquest.com www.tapedisk.com www.tandberg.com
www.tecmar.com www.texasisa.com www.toray.com www.triplex.com www.contagious.com
www.wdc.com www.winsys.com www.xyratek.com
CATALOGS OF COMPUTERS, COMPONENTS, AND SOFTWARE
5198 W. 76 th Street Edina, 55439
CompuClassics P.O. Box 10598 Canoga Park, CA 91309
Global Computer Supplies 1 1 Harbor Park Drive Dept. 48 Port Washington, NY 11050
PO. Box 17882 Milwaukee,
Computers and Music 647 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94105
Global Office Products 1 1 Harbor Park Drive Dept. 30 Port Washington, NY 11050
DAMARK 7101 Winnetka Avenue N. P.O.
101 E. Gloucester Pike Barrington, NJ 08007-1380
Hello Direct 5884 Eden Park Place
Data Cal Corp.
531 E. Elliot Road Chandler, AZ 85222-1152
IBM PC P.O.
Dell Direct Sales
11209 Metric Boulevard TX 78758-4093
Research Triangle Park,
JDR Microdevices 2233 Samaritan Drive San Jose, CA 95124
701 Brooks Avenue Thief River Falls,
MN 56701-0677 157
BUILD, UPGRADE, AND REPAIR
KidSoft Software Catalog
50 S. 9*k Street Minneapolis,
970 Calle Negocio San Clemente, CA 92673
Micro Warehouse 1720
Box 3014 Lakewood, NJ 08701-3014 P.O.
Business Park Drive Branford, CT 06405
16290 Shoemaker CA 90701-2243
Queblo 1000 Florida Avenue Hagerstown, 21741
P.O. Box 1087 Winter Garden, FL 34787
Multimedia World P.O. Box 58690 Boulder, CO 80323-8690
Software Labs 100 Corporate Pointe, #195 Culver City, CA 90230-7616
Soundware 200 Menlo Oaks Drive Menlo Park, CA 94025
4711 Golf Road Skokie, IL 60076
South Hills Datacomm 760 Beechnut Drive Pittsburg, PA 15205
205 Chubb Avenue Lyndhurst, NJ 07071
Computers 56800 Magnetic Drive Mishawaka, IN 46545
•Pasternak Enterprises P.O.
Tiger Software 800 Douglas Tower, 7^ Floor Coral Gables, FL 33134
PC Connection Tools For Exploration
6 Mill Street
4460 Redwood Highway, Suite 2 San Rafael, CA 94903
90 Industrial Park Road Hingham, 02043
Power Up! P.O. Box 7600 San Mateo,
PrePress 11 Mt. Pleasant Avenue East Hanover, NJ 07936-9925
United Video and Computer 724 7 th Ave. New York, NY 10019
UnixReview P.O. Box 420035 Palm Coast, FL 32142-0035
San Mateo Public
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